Second Year Success: Why the Brooklyn Nets Sophomores Are Poised to Succeed
*Photo via ESPN
The Brooklyn Nets are in for another long season. The rebuilding process (Plan “N”), is officially underway, and the Nets will most likely have another challenging season. However, the Nets can take comfort in knowing that two of their young prospects for the future, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, should have successful seasons, and have already shown improvement.
Last season, both players’ rookie seasons were cut short due to injury. McCullough was coming off of a torn ACL when the Nets drafted him in 2015, and didn’t see the court until early February. Hollis-Jefferson’s season was cut short when he fractured his ankle in December. He missed the next four months and came back at the end of March. Both injuries did not let Nets fans get a good window of these two young players’ potential. However, from what fans were able to see towards the end of the year, and based on performances during the summer league, fans should be excited to see what these two can do this upcoming season.
After only scoring 4.7 points in the regular season last year, McCullough averaged over 10 points a game in the Las Vegas Summer League this month (basketball reference.com). He also raised his rebounding stats from 2.8 a game in the regular season to just under 8 a game during summer league (basketball reference.com). Hollis-Jefferson also raised his averages during summer league, rising from under 6 points a game to 10 a game, and 5.3 rebounds to 6.6 rebounds, while adding 3.2 steals a game (basketball reference.com).
*Photo via NYPOST
Now I understand that stats will be inflated in summer league due to more playing time and weaker competition. However, improvement is important for young players. It boosts their confidence, and it’s still a great way to practice before the real games begin. Both Hollis-Jefferson and McCullough will get an added boost to their minutes this year, and the fact that they both proved that they could average double digit scoring in lengthened roles is a very good sign. In a few games, Hollis-Jefferson showed some new moves on offense, proving that he’s been working on his game. His offense was the biggest question mark in his game last year, so any improvement in that department is a huge boost.
Another reason that the Nets should be very optimistic about these two young players is the new head coach Kenny Atkinson. Atkinson is known around the league as a really good player developer, and is credited with the development of now Net, Jeremy Lin and the Hawk's Kent Bazemore. If Atkinson can work his magic on McCullough and Hollis-Jefferson, then the Nets will have their forwards of the future.
Both of these talented young men have bright futures in the league if they continue to work on their games, and stay healthy. Both players were projected as lottery picks during the 2015 draft, but McCullough’s injury and question marks about Hollis-Jefferson’s jump shot had them sliding down the board. Now that both are healthy and showing improvements in their game, the sky is the limit for them. With added playing time, and a new system that should help speed up their development, Nets fans will have something to cheer about during the long season ahead.