Preview: Nets kick off Summer League vs Atlanta Hawks

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, with a mouth full of Starburst. (AP)

Brooklyn Nets basketball is back! Kind of. The Nets will face off against the Atlanta Hawks in their first matchup of the Las Vegas Summer League Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV. The final score won’t mean a thing, but the Nets will get a look at the progression of their returning young players and see if they can unearth any diamonds from the rest of the roster.

Of the 16 players on the roster, five of them played for the Nets last year: RHJ, LeVert, Whitehead, Dinwiddie and Goodwin. Those five guys are pretty much guaranteed to be on the team next year. Jarrett Allen, the Nets’ first-round pick in the recent draft is also on the roster, but won’t be participating due to a strained hip he sustained during pre-draft workouts. Still, the Nets new 19-year-old center will benefit greatly from spending time around not only his new teammates but also his new head coach, Kenny Atkinson. Kenny will be coaching the Nets in the Summer League for his second straight season and will get a first-hand look at who can and can’t play in his system.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, with a mouth full of Starburst. (AP)

Among those vying for a professional contract is Jake Wiley, a hyper-athletic combo forward who put up huge numbers at Eastern Washington before going undrafted. He projects as an energy big who can bring shot-blocking, athleticism and rebounding off the bench.

Jeremy Senglin is another name to keep an eye on. He might be an undersized shooting guard at 6 feet, 2 inches but he is a microwave scorer who is a dead-eye shooter from deep; he shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc on nearly nine attempts per game in his senior season at Weber State. 

Long Island Net Prince Ibeh is arguably the most intriguing name on the Summer League roster. He went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and had a pretty underwhelming college career, but if you want to talk about potential diamonds in the rough, look no further. His physical tools for a center are elite; he is 6 feet, 11 inches, 261 lbs, has a 7-foot, 5-inch wingspan and is an incredible athlete. Besides his rare physical tools, he has impressive defensive instincts. Along with his rim protection, he is very smooth moving laterally which help him on the perimeter. Bigs who can protect the rim and defend pick and rolls don’t grow on trees, making Ibeh that much more interesting.

The rest of the roster consists of guys you might not have heard of, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t the potential for someone to make a name for themselves. That’s the beauty of the Summer League: while most people tune in to see the big name draft picks get their first taste of pro ball, this is also an opportunity for some guys who may have slipped through the cracks to prove they belong. Here’s to hoping we find this year’s version of Jonathon Simmons (and hold on to him this time).