LAS VEGAS — Even after claiming the Brooklyn Nets starting center position midway through his rookie season, Jarrett Allen wanted to play in NBA Summer League.
“It’s been my dream to play in Summer League,” said Allen, who was held out of last summer’s action with a hip injury after the Nets selected him in the first round. “Watching on TV growing up, I wanted to play in it.”
The 20-year-old was also held out of the first two games of this year’s tournament. But in Monday night’s 78-69 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Allen made his Summer League debut and contributed 12 rebounds, five blocks and eight points in 26 minutes.
“It was good to see him out there,” said Nets assistant coach Jacque Vaughn. “I think his impact was definitely on the defensive end of the floor, being able to protect the rim for us. You saw how bouncy he was getting up and down. I think he interjected some life into his teammates too. It was good to see.”
Allen has been with the summer squad throughout the past week, participating in workouts. And he wanted to be a positive example for the players trying to earn their way to the NBA. But he also found it tough to lead without being on the court. He was able to do that Monday.
“The leaders are the ones that go into war with your guys,” said Allen. “It’s tough sitting on the sidelines telling them what to do from there. To finally be able to get in there and be in there with them, I finally get to show them, ‘I’m here with you guys. I’m in the battle.’”
WATANABE MAKES AN IMPRESSION
Yuta Watanabe and Shawn Dawson led the Nets with 14 points each. The pair combined for four 3-pointers late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to bring the Nets within 56-55 before Minnesota pulled away.
Watanabe has averaged 11.6 points and played more minutes than any other player in Brooklyn’s first three games. He made 4-of-6 3-pointers against Minnesota and had four rebounds.
“He’s making me more comfortable, the coaching staff for sure,” said Vaughn. “He has probably been our most consistent player, practices and games included, so I give him credit for that. The effort that he’s given on the defensive end of the floor too. So it’s a combination of making the right player offensively, being unselfish, and then laying his body on the line defensively.”
Caris LeVert, Juan Pablo Vaulet, Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa did not play Monday night, and Vaughn said it was unlikely at this point that they would play in Summer League.
“I think those odds are probably more negative than positive, right now,” said Vaughn.