July 13, 2009
With the combined roster consisting of two second-year players (Chris Douglas-Roberts and Marreese Speights) returning after their inaugural experience as pros, two 2009 first-round picks (Terrence Williams and Jrue Holiday) getting their first taste of NBA-caliber competition, and seven free agents vying for NBA roster spots -- or even training camp invites -- there existed many an agenda in Orlando. Balancing them proved difficult, but Nets coach Lawrence Frank saw what he wanted from the team’s pair of roster players: improvement.
Douglas-Roberts traveled to Orlando with a chance to build upon a strong finish to last season (9.5 PPG in the final 15 games) and rocketed out of the gate, scoring 57 points in the first two games. He did it efficiently (14-26 FGs) by attacking the basket repeatedly (19-24 FTs) as defenders offered little resistance. But in the next two games, Douglas-Roberts racked up only seven points on 1-of-5 shooting despite playing 60 minutes. He rebounded to post 15 points (6-9 FGs), three rebounds and four assists in the team’s final game.
“At the end of the day you want to win every game,” Douglas-Roberts said. “As a competitor, you want to go out and do anything you can to help your team win. Individually, this was a learning experience for me. Kiki (Vandeweghe) and Lawrence told me that even when the game isn’t coming to you, you still have to find a way to impact it. You play well some games, and maybe the next game it doesn’t come to you for some reason.”
With a season’s familiarity, Frank knows Douglas-Roberts can score, and used the Summer League to focus the swingman’s attention on creating easy baskets off-the-ball. Secondary goals included working on perimeter shooting -- regularly making open outside shots would make him an even greater threat -- and improving his strength and balance in order to guard bigger players.
Frank also watched Williams play against potential NBA peers in game action for the first time. After struggling with his shot (4-19 FGs) in the first two games, the Nets’ staff impressed upon Williams the value of attacking the basket, and his shooting percentage -- and scoring -- improved. In the next two games Williams shot 3-of-8 from three and 12-of-26 overall, scoring 30 points to go along with 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals. But turnovers were a problem (4.0 per game), and he struggled again in the finale, shooting 3-of-11 and scoring only six points.
“A lot of times he drives to pass and we need him to drive to score, because in the NBA if you just drive to pass, they won’t over help,” Frank said. “So he has to drive to score in order to pass, because if he attacks more north-south as opposed to east-west, he will force help and the passes will be a little more obvious. We are also going to work on his free throw shooting and his balance on his jumper. Overall, we think he has a good base and he made progress throughout the week, so those are all positives.”
Williams, who blogged about the experience at the Rookie Chronicles Web site, felt he improved every game and gained crucial knowledge. Douglas-Roberts -- encouraged by his teammate’s all-around play -- is also ready to further the improvement he’s shown this summer.
“I am just going to continue working, doing the same things I have been doing," Douglas-Roberts said. "I am really going to put an emphasis on bulking up and improving my flexibility and staying on path. I think I am on a pretty good path now so I am going to stay on course and I’ll be on beast mode come training camp”
--Posted by Ben Couch
July 1, 2009
As they have in past years, the Nets will be participating in the Orlando Pro Summer League, hosted by the Magic from July 6-10. Second-year swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and 2009 No. 11 pick Terrence Williams will be representing the Nets. Brook Lopez will travel and possibly play, though he’s not listed on the official roster.
For Nets coach Lawrence Frank, it’s an opportunity to get an initial read on a player finally added to the roster after months of scouting. And also to monitor the progress in returning players.
"You want to see at practices what his practice approach is: his work ethic, his habits, how long he can sustain effort, how does he fit in with a new group of guys. You want to see what his basketball disposition is. And with Chris Douglas-Roberts, who has a year in our program, to see his growth and maturity, see how he responds. I think Summer League is a good tool to teach and it’s a good tool to evaluate, see how a guy fares against his peers.”
The Nets’ representatives will be joined in Orlando by the hometown Magic, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. Teams will play 15 games during the five-day event, with box scores, game recaps and cumulative statistics available at orlandomagic.com.
One major change this season is that the Nets will be working in league with the Sixers to form a combined squad rather than fielding separate teams. After each assigning two players from the NBA roster (Philly will send forward Marreese Speights and point guard Jrue Holiday), team officials split up the remaining spots to enable each to bring in a few free agents while still fleshing out a position-diverse roster.
“I think it’s a real positive thing because we have a real good personal dynamic with the people from Philly,” Frank said. “You have (former Nets general manager) Ed Stefanski and (former Nets assistant coaches) Eddie Jordan and Mike O’Koren, so I think we’ll work together very, very well. And I think it’s unique in that normally you have only a couple of roster players and then free agents. Here they’re going to have two roster players, we’re going to have two, and then a bunch of free agents both teams want to evaluate. I think practices will be competitive.”
Nets assistant coaches Roy Rogers and Tom Barrise will link up with Sixers staffers O’Koren and Aaron McKie to helm the team. Outside of Douglas-Roberts, Williams, Speights and Holiday, the remaining players are: AJ Abrams (G, Texas*), Jeff Adrien (F, Connecticut), Blake Ahearn (G, Dakota Wizards), Dionte Christmas (G, Temple), Jason Ellis (F, Idaho Stampede), Gary Forbes (F, Tulsa 66ers), Chris Johnson (C, LSU), Rob Kurz (F, Golden State Warriors).
*Most recent professional or college team.
--Posted by Ben Couch
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