Brooklyn Nets Training Camp: Dzanan Musa is Ready to Go
Rookie takes part in first practice session with preseason opener on tap Wednesday
It's just preseason, but on Wednesday evening Dzanan Musa will have his first NBA gameday, from a morning shootaround to slipping on that No. 30 jersey and taking the court at Barclays Center with his Brooklyn Nets teammates for the first time.
“Oh, every game for me is like finals," said Musa. "I play every game like it’s my last. So I’m excited about that. We’ll see what’s going to happen. I’m sure that if I get a chance I will give my 100%.”
The preseason opener will be just two days after Musa took part in his first full practice session since the beginning of training camp, having injured his ankle while playing for the Bosnian national team.
It was a tough week for the 19-year-old, itching to get to work while the Nets tipped off camp. He did what he could to pay attention and soak up what the team was doing with systems and schemes. His locker room neighbor, Jared Dudley, was in his ear, telling him to relax.
“I was so frustrated that I couldn’t sleep at night because I wasn’t practicing," said Musa. "I was watching training camp, and the guys were fighting, the coaches were all-in, the intensity and stuff, and I was on the bench watching. That was so hard for me. But as I said, I’m happy that I’m here.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased with Musa's early grasp of what the team is doing and the performance of he and fellow rookie Rodions Kurucs. The Nets nabbed Musa near the end of the first round with the 29th overall pick and Kurucs 11 picks later in the second round.
Both rookies are 6-foot-9 with several years of professional experience in Europe.
“Skill level is the first thing that jumps out," said Atkinson. "They’re skilled. They’re not just catch-and-shoot guys. I think there might be a perception that these guys are spot up guys. Both drive to the rim, both are pretty good passers, both are competitors. Their competitive defensive spirit has been really good. I don’t want to get carried away, it’s early, but good so far.”
While Kurucs is listed as a forward, Musa is listed as a guard/forward. Both players bring perimeter skills, length, and the size to guard across multiple positions.
Musa is confident in his ability as a playmaker and ready and willing to slot in wherever Atkinson deems him a fit.
"He showed some pick and roll ability today," said Atkinson. "I'm not ready to put him at the starting point guard, but I think he could eventually be a secondary or third ball-handler. He's pretty skilled, more skilled with the ball than I thought. I see him two, three. Two is probably his position. That's a nice size. I think I referenced Mike Dunleavy. He's 6-9. He's tall. He's got to get stronger obviously, but is eventually two, three, four which is where this league is kind of going with the multiple positions. The versatility."
Musa was anxious to get on the court for practice this week, but he knows the next step isn't necessarily up to him. There are plenty of veterans available on the wing and at the guard spots, and the coaching staff will set the pace for the rookie's progression.
“I don’t know; you have to ask them that," said Musa about whether he'd be eased in slowly. "But whatever, whenever I get a chance, an opportunity, I will make sure that they will remember me.”