The Nets started off their summer in defeat as they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in Orlando, 81-73. In recent years, the Nets haven’t fared well in Summer League, and finished in dead last in 2014. This year, however, the Nets will also be playing in Las Vegas’s Summer League, so there are plenty of fresh looks and impressions to go around. Although these games are ultimately meaningless, former Nets like Mason Plumlee and Tornike Shengelia have used the summer league as a springboard for the season.
With that being said, here are five rapid reactions from this afternoon’s loss against the Grizzlies.
1. Markel Brown, the point guard
All things considered, Brown did a fairly good job controlling the ball and pace of the game. Even though the Nets have loaded up on point guards over the last two weeks, Brown still said his summer goal was learning to be a better point guard. So far, so good — Brown did a nice job keeping the offense on the move and never let things stagnate too badly. Unless the Nets can trade Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack, he probably won’t get too much burn at point guard, but having that versatility can only help his overall improvement.
Additionally, ignore the box score — it isn’t pretty, but don’t worry about it. Brown had trouble adjusting to the new position, but facilitated the offense well. This would be a different conversation if Earl Clark and Xavier Thames made a couple more of their shots, but don’t be alarmed by the slow-start from Brown.
3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 5 turnovers, 1-7 FG%, 21:40 minutes played
2. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is athletic, duh
Even in the early moments of the game, we saw quite a bit of athleticism out of the rookie. Whether it was driving down the lane, hitting an off-balance jumper, or getting up for tough rebounds, Hollis-Jefferson showed why the Brooklyn Nets are so high on him. Although much has been made of Hollis-Jefferson’s poor shooting on a team that epitomized poor shooting last season, his effects and contributions should go far beyond that. The Nets sorely lacked athleticism last season and the combination of Hollis-Jefferson and Brown should be pretty fun moving forward.
Hollis-Jefferson’s biggest highlight of the night came towards the end of the first half, as he stole the ball near half-court, drove to the rim and beat the buzzer on a layup. Like I said, he’ll provide some much-needed athleticism this season.
9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 4-8 FG%, 25:08 minutes played
3. Cory Jefferson looks bigger and stronger
Jefferson, the 60th overall pick in last year’s draft, has clearly used the off-season to his advantage. He looks noticeably bigger and stronger than he did at the end of last season and operated well in the paint. With the potential of a costly Teletovic contract still looming on the horizon, Jefferson looks like he’s going to take his opportunity to impress in style. As the NBATV’s Rick Kamla put it: “Cory Jefferson went for the mega blast on that one.”
13 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 4-11 FG%, 23:52 minutes played
4. Cliff Alexander has a versatile skill set
Although Alexander didn’t feature as much as the starters, he certainly made the most of his time. Alexander, the once-troubled prospect from Kansas, has a particularly smooth offensive game. Early on, he flexed his post game and then scored on a tough jumper from the baseline. In the 4th quarter, he stuffed home a fearsome dunk. If Alexander makes the team, he’ll be best low-risk, high-reward prospect the Nets have had in some time.
8 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 4-6 FG%, 17:05 minutes played
5. Earl Clark has never met a shot he didn’t like
Earl Clark, a man quite possibly playing for his already minuscule spot in the rotation, wasn’t shy from the field. For a team that seems most interested in their rookies, it was a little puzzling to see Clark play fourteen minutes — and he took full advantage.
Unhesitating, Clark fired up four shots in the first five minutes of the game, with the same amount of confidence that got him drafted 14th overall in 2009. However, and take this with a grain of salt, Clark finished with a -9 plus/minus, a number higher than Thames, Brown and Hollis-Jefferson, -14, -12 and -14, respectively.
4 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 1-4 FG%, 14:05 minutes played
The Nets will be back in action tomorrow at 5PM against the Miami Heat and the 10th overall pick, Justise Winslow.