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Brooklyn Nets Summer League: Things to Watch For

From rookies to returnees, three keys for Brookyn's Summer League squad

The Brooklyn Nets tip off their 2019 NBA Summer League schedule Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, with additional games scheduled for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. After that, they’ll either have earned one of the eight spots in the championship tournament, or will play one consolation game to wrap up their schedule.

Here are three things to watch for as the Nets take the court in Las Vegas:

ROOKIES

This is where most of the juice from Summer League comes from, that first look at the new class of rookies from the latest NBA Draft. And if the national interest tends to be focused on those high lottery picks, each team’s fanbase shares the curiosity of checking out their own newest draftees.

For the Nets, that means the intriguing pair of center Nic Claxton and guard Jaylen Hands. With the first pick of the second round in hand, the Nets felt comfortable dealing off the 27th overall pick and getting Claxton — a first-round prospect by many draft boards — with the 31st overall pick. Claxton had a breakout sophomore season at Georgia, averaging 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. The 20-year-old is 6-foot-11 and 220 pounds, profiling similarly to Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen.

Then there’s Hands, a product of the trade of the 27th pick that brought back this year’s 56th pick along with a future first rounder. A dynamic, hyper-athletic point guard, Hands was a five-star recruit coming out of San Diego and heading for UCLA two years ago. Like Claxton, he’s leaving college after two seasons. The 20-year-old averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 assists for the Bruins last season and was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.

MUSA & KURUCS

After being selected 11 picks apart in the 2018 NBA Draft, Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs offered promise for Brooklyn last season in different ways.

With his athleticism and relentless play — and some injury-created need in the frontcourt — Kurucs forced his way into the Brooklyn rotation in early December, and then into the starting lineup. He ended up starting 46 of his 63 NBA games, playing both forward positions and averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds while earning a spot in the Rising Stars game at All-Star Weekend.

Musa — just 19 when drafted — saw most of his playing time in the G League with Long Island, averaging 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists while helping the Long Island Nets to the G League finals. He’s determined to earn a place in the NBA rotation this season, and sees the Summer League opportunity as the first step to doing so. With the promise each player showed last season, Nets fans are curious what’s next, and this will be their first look as well.

HOW MUCH JARRETT ALLEN?

Heading into his third NBA season, Jarrett Allen has been Brooklyn’s starting center since the middle of his rookie season. He started all 80 games he played last year, so that makes him a little bit of an outlier among Summer Leaguers. But he is still just 21 years old and genuinely seems to enjoy the experience. Allen missed Summer League after being drafted in 2017 due to a hip issue and was excited to get the opportunity to participate for the first time last summer, when he played in two games.

Truth is, Allen probably gives more than he gets out of Summer League at this point. Even if his playing time is limited, his presence around the team and in practices offers significant benefits. He’s got two years of NBA experience and brings a familiarity with Brooklyn’s system and a maturity beyond his years to the court. He’s somebody for the rookies to follow. Even though they didn’t play themselves last summer, Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa got to connect with a player who had been in the Brooklyn system for a year. Draftees Nic Claxton and Jaylen Hands will have the same opportunity this summer, and it would seem particularly beneficial for Claxton, a fellow center.

Catch the Brooklyn Nets this Season

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