Despite the intense heat in Las Vegas, the Nets thrived in this year’s NBA Summer League.
Rookies Jalen Wilson and Noah Clowney got their first taste of professional baseball as the Nets (3-2) reached the semifinals. Sunday’s semifinal was one of the most exciting games of the weekend, as the Nets forced overtime despite trailing by 11 points early in the fourth quarter.
The results of summer league games are secondary to player development, so here are four takeaways and observations from the past two weeks.
Jalen Wilson’s amazing shooting touch
It wasn’t a surprise that Wilson seemed comfortable in Summer League. The Nets’ second-round pick showcased his experience coming out of Kansas with a polished game of getting to the rim, grabbing rebounds and defending multiple positions, en route to earning second-team All-Summer League honors.
The surprise was how well he shot from deep. Wilson’s 3-point shooting was a blow to him coming out of college, but he shot 45.8% on 3-pointers in five games and showed soft form.
“I’ve been working on it all summer since I got out of school, all through the draft process,” said Wilson, who averaged a team-high 17.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. “I just want to be the best shooter I can be, just help my confidence and be able to take the shots when they come my way.”
He will have to show himself in preseason practices and exhibitions against better competition. But if Wilson, who signed a two-way deal, can open the floor with his jumper, his future bodes well because the other parts of his game are solid.
Noah Clowney needs time to develop
Unlike Wilson, Clowney had a worse time in Summer League, something to be expected for someone who turned 19 on Friday.
He struggled offensively to just 4.8 points per game and had foul trouble the last two games, which is not uncommon for a young center. However, he was promising as a rebounder (5.4 per game) and shot blocker (1.4). He showed confidence in his jumper and wasn’t deterred when he missed shots.
Overall, it was a good upbringing for Clowney. He has potential to be a rim saver, but at his age he also needs more development. It’s what the Nets planned when they drafted him. The good news? Clowney can use fellow South Carolina native Nic Claxton as a guide to improve.
The Armoni Brooks case for a two-way deal
Besides Wilson, Armoni Brooks was perhaps the most impressive player on the Nets. He not only led the team in scoring (17.8 points), but also shot 3-pointers on 47.6% (20 of 42).
Brooks, who played last season in the G League, made five three-pointers in three different games (and had five between the other two games). He also helped the team encourage him to keep shooting and said it allowed him to play more freely. As a result, he looked as confident as anyone on the court and defended the Nets’ final two-way spot.
“When you have people constantly telling you to throw the ball, you have no choice but to believe in yourself and continue to throw the ball,” Brooks said.
Mixed bag by David Duke Jr., Kennedy Chandler
David Duke Jr. played well in his third Summer League season, averaging 16.0 points and 2.0 steals. He shot well in four of the five games and vowed to show more focus on defense.
Kennedy Chandler had a team-high 5.4 assists with 2.0 steals, but shot just 35.7% from the field. As good as he is as a defender and attacking the rim, he often took too many misses. His jump shot needs to improve as a balance to his great speed and athleticism.
It’s hard to see either player getting a two-way deal with the Nets, especially with the way Brooks played. Duke gave himself a good chance, but Chandler may have to wait and see what his next options are.