Brooklyn Nets Summer League Preview: Roster Breakdown
Five-man draft class leads contingent in Las Vegas
It’s been a while since the Brooklyn Nets have rostered a Summer League squad that looks quite like this one. The Nets have a massive five-player contingent out of the 2021 NBA Draft that is lined up to take the court in Las Vegas.
They’ll start against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, Aug. 9, the first of four scheduled games before they wrap up with either a berth in the championship game on Aug. 17 or a consolation game.
Here’s a breakdown of who’s bound for Las Vegas:
Sure, let’s get started by getting ahead of ourselves. Is there any chance that 19-year-old first-round draft picks Cameron Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe will crack the Brooklyn rotation this season?
On draft night, general manager Sean Marks described Thomas, drafted by the Nets 27th overall, as having “an elite skill.” That would be bucket-getting, as evidenced by the 23.0 points per game that Thomas pumped in as an SEC freshman. Up front, Sharpe brings some serious size at 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds, projecting as a high-end rebounder with the agility to offer promise as an option in the pick-and-roll game. Las Vegas will offer the first glimpse of the pair as they take the leap into the NBA.
Next up are the three second rounders: swingman Kessler Edwards, guard Marcus Zegarowski, and big man RaiQuan Gray. Edwards brings size and shooting — 39.5 percent 3-point percentage over three seasons at 6-foot-8, averaging 17.2 points as a junior. Zegarowki hit 42.3 percent from deep this past season, and the 6-8, 260-pound Gray is another rookie big body.
Over the last few years Nets second rounders have earned full roster spots (Nic Claxton, Rodions Kurucs), two-way contracts (Reggie Perry), or been signed directly to Long Island in the G League (Jaylen Hands), so the possibilities are open for this group.
Next up, four players who were part of the organization last season: Alize Johnson, Reggie Perry, Jordan Bowden, and Kaiser Gates.
Johnson joined Brooklyn on a 10-day contract in late March and turned the opportunity into a multi-year deal by the end of the season. A second-round pick of Indiana in 2018, Johnson had played 31 games over two seasons with the Pacers, then went to last year’s G League Bubble with Raptors 905. The 6-foot-7 212-pound forward had a few extraordinary outings for Brooklyn: 23 points and 15 rebounds in his Nets debut and a 20-point, 21-rebound game in a win over Indiana.
Perry was the 57th pick in the 2020 draft and was with Brooklyn on a two-way deal last season. He saw rotation minutes for a few weeks in January after the Jarrett Allen trade, then delivered a strong performance in the G League bubble with Long Island, averaging 18.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 52.1 percent overall and 32.4 percent from 3-point range in 15 games.
With Long Island, Perry played with both Gates and Bowden. That was the third G League season for Gates, who came out of Xavier in 2018 and played Summer League with the Bulls that year. A 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward, Gates averaged 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds for Long Island last season. Bowden, a 6-5 guard, was a pro rookie last winter after playing four seasons at Tennessee. He averaged 7.8 points and 1.2 assists in 20.6 minutes per game for Long Island.
Aside from their own two players from the 2020-21 season, the Nets are bringing three players with NBA experience to Las Vegas. The best-known is former first-round pick Brandon Knight.
Selected eighth overall by Detroit in 2011, Knight played for five teams in eight seasons, missing the 2017-18 season due to a knee injury. He last played for Cleveland in Detroit during the 2019-20 season and was not in the league last year. Knight, 29 years old, averaged 14.1 points and 4.01 assists over 446 career games.
Quinndary Weatherspoon was a second-round pick of the Spurs in 2019 and spent the last two years with San Antonio on a two-way contract. He played 35 G League games for the Austin Spurs in 2019-20, averaging 14.8 points and 5.1 assists, but the 6-foot-3 guard was primarily with the NBA squad this past season and played 31 games total for San Antonio over the last two years.
Undrafted out of South Carolina in 2019, Chris Silva started that season on a two-way deal with the Miami Heat before it was converted to a regular contract. He played 44 games for the Heat as a rookie then split last season between Miami and Sacramento, appearing in 15 games. A 6-foot-8, 234-pound forward, Silva was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and an All-SEC First Team selection as a junior.
A 6-foot-5 guard, David Duke started all 91 games he played at Providence over three seasons. He shot 42.0 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore and 38.6 percent as a junior, when he averaged 16.8 points and was named to the All-Big East Second Team.
A 6-foot-6 guard, Brandon Rachal made a few college stops and played the last two seasons at Tulsa, where he averaged 15.0 points and 7.2 rebounds last season.
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