That was quick and easy. In the opening game of Orlando Summer League — taking place at 9 A.M. the day after Independence Day — the Brooklyn Nets summer squad led wire-to-wire in an easy victory over the Indiana Pacers, 101-81.
The Nets get six “points” in the Summer League standings: four for winning the game, and one each for winning the first and second quarters.
Remember, Summer League is mostly for show. It’s a fun week of basketball for a combination of guys that have just made it to the league or are trying to claw in and find a niche somewhere. Most of these guys (save their draft picks and players under contract) won’t ever play a minute for Brooklyn, but one or two might, and that’s what we’re looking for here.
So rather than give you a full recap of a game whose outcome was both never really in doubt and never really important, here’s a few notes about people you should care about:
- Coaching duties were shared by assistants John Welch and Roy Rogers, though it looked more like Welch was taking the lead on most of the coaching. Welch was one of Jason Kidd’s hires last season, and though Rogers technically was too, Rogers has also worked most of his career alongside Nets daily reporter Lawrence Frank.
- Your Game 1 MVP was none other than the team’s big rookie surprise last season, Mason Plumlee. Plumlee, who didn’t win a single summer league game last season, scored inside like it was varsity vs. JV: hook shots, dunks, steals and drives in transition, the works. He just couldn’t be stopped.
In the second half, Plumlee just started throwing up stuff with his left hand for the hell of it. That’s something Pacers president Larry Bird — who was on hand — was known for doing in his career in blowouts. I don’t know if Plumlee realized that, but I hope he did.
- “I’m not saying he’s Hakeem Olajuwon,” was a real thing Kendall Gill said about Plumlee. I love summer league.
- 44th overall Nets draft pick Markel Brown looked every bit as athletic as advertised. Despite standing under 6’4″ in shoes, Brown got up for dunks easily, hit an NBA 3, threw some nifty passes as the game wound down, and even played a little defense in summer league. Summer league!
- Much of the commentary early from Kendall Gill and Matt Winer was about Marquis Teague, who is oddly one of the most high-profile names in this summer league. But Teague had an up-and-down opening game: he hit one nice floater in the second quarter and a nice lefty and-one in the third but struggled to finish in traffic and committed a few silly turnovers. That said, he did finish with a game-high six assists. The joys of playing with Hakeem Olajuwon replicate Mason Plumlee.
- Gill & Winer also spent entirely too much time talking about Jorge Gutierrez‘s hair. “Great hair,” “Pretty boy look,” and “touch as soft as his hairstyle” were all peppered throughout the game. It happened so often that Gill, in a moment of seriousness, called Gutierrez a “heady” player and I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere. Anyway, Gutierrez played well.
- The other two Nets draft picks, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson, both had quiet games. I was impressed with both of them defensively, Jefferson moreso, but you can’t take too much from defense in summer league.
- Donte Greene, one of the players here with NBA experience, played with a visible vigor. He also looks enormous. He’s technically listed as a small forward-power forward hybrid, but there’s nothing small about him.