The Brooklyn Nets and the NBA haven’t been the only ones trying to navigate the chaos that COVID had created over the last month and a half. Just 30 miles east at the Nassau Coliseum, the Long Island Nets have had to begin their season under unique circumstances.
As COVID wreaked havoc on NBA rosters, including the Brooklyn Nets, teams turned to the G League to help fill out their rosters as the Association trudged through with their games. That has created some wackiness of its own for G League teams, like the Long Island Nets, who have felt the impact of so many players being called up to the NBA level.
“It’s unusual. It’s a new challenge,” Long Island Nets coach Adam Caporn said. “There’s strengths too. We’ve got veterans that have come in here and shared some of their experiences. It’s a challenge to get your team cohesive and that’s perhaps why our defense was a step behind. … I think generally our guys have handled it well. They’ve been focused, they’ve rolled with some punches and have been working.”
He added: “It’s also just a good challenge. We got some different bodies in and tried some different things and I think for the most part we’ve sort of done a good job of not giving up too much frustration energy. It’s been unusual, a lot of teams are going through it and we just rolled with it.”
While the roster flux can create a bit of a headache for coaches, the positive of it all has been the number of players getting opportunities at the NBA level has been historic.
About 100 players who did not have their rights owned by an NBA team accounted for 108 call-ups, Marc Stein recently reported. That surprised a 2014-15 record when the G League had 63 separate call-ups involving 47 players.
The recent opportunities have created an added motivation for G Leaguers like Long Island Nets guard Craig Randall II, who was signed as a local tryout player. Randall has taken advantage of the chance he’s gotten in the lineup because others had been called up.
And he’s looked at the success rookies Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. have had in their chances with the Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s a lot of motivation,” Randall said. “It makes you feel like you just gotta keep listening, keep trusting, keep believing in what (the coaches) are saying and what they’re teaching. Coach (Capor) and everyone on the staff does a really good job of making sure we’re always ready. Just gotta keep buying in and just moving forward always do that.”
Caporn is still relatively new to the G League and said he didn’t have the needed perspective to comment on any shift towards the NBA and NBA G League’s relationship. However, he did praise the Brooklyn Nets and the way they’ve valued their G League affiliate.
“It’s a great thing to be a part of and to see a lot of guys get called up and get opportunities, and do well,” Caporn said. “What’s happened with the four guys that have spent time with us here and playing in Brooklyn and doing so well, it’s exciting to be a part of that. Celebrate it and it provides them with extra motivation. It feels real, it’s important. There’s a lot of good players here and some guys that will have some NBA careers and long professional careers.
“You’re excited to work with them and achieve their goals, but (also) help the Nets win some games and get better.”