5 Takeaways from the Nets Preseason
532 days following the Nets’ clean sweep of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, the organization and its patient fans finally got a glimpse of the 7-11 duo, Durant and Irving. While just two preseason games were played, this made national headlines, as it was the first time in 18 months since Durant last stepped on the NBA hardwood. All eyes were on the Nets and how they would look attempting to integrate their new faces with the already established core. Here are five takeaways from the Nets preseason games.
1. Kevin Durant is back like he never left
The biggest storyline of the preseason was the return of NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who played in his first NBA game in 552 days when the Nets hosted the Washington Wizards on Sunday. Some of his highlights included a dunk off a baseline drive, transition threes, and a faceup game that still seems unguardable.
In the first game, Durant impressed in his limited action and finished with 15 points, three rebounds, and three assists in just 24 minutes. In the second game against the Celtics, he looked even more in rhythm, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, and three blocks on an efficient 9-16 shooting in 27 minutes. Not shabby at all for a guy who went a year and a half without playing in an NBA game.
When asked about how it felt to be back on the court, Durant replied, “I don’t even feel like I played great. I just need to see how I play in a real NBA game with reps. It’s a good place to stand and I’m trying to build from it.”
Durant holds himself to a very high standard, that of the best in the league. With the glimpses we saw from him yesterday, there’s plenty of optimism to believe that the perennial MVP candidate we knew and loved will be back in no time.
2. Put the external factors aside, Kyrie Irving is ridiculous
His creative thoughts, ideologies about the world, and interesting perspectives are commonly taken out of context. His words and intentions are often altered. When he burned sage before the preseason game at TD Garden, many labeled him as strange.
When he steps foot on the court though, Kyrie Irving is a SportsCenter Top 10 highlight just waiting to happen. His offensive arsenal is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from a 6’2 point guard and that’s what we saw a sneak peek of in the preseason and in his inaugural season in Brooklyn. Whether it’s a stepback, eurostep, killer crossover, or hesitation, Irving knows exactly how to break down his defender and create space to get a quality shot off.
While most of the attention was going to his teammate and close friend Kevin Durant, we should remember that Irving is one of the greatest point guards in the game today. He is efficient and dazzles the viewers. He gave fans a sample of what is soon to come in Brooklyn.
Durant was asked about Irving and replied, “Kyrie looked incredible. He’s unstoppable, a master of his craft. He set the tone for us.”
Put the off the court drama aside, Kyrie Irving is a force to be reckoned with. Put the ball in his hands and watch the magic unravel.
3. Landry Shamet is a sneaky good addition
On draft night, the Nets traded the 19th pick for Landry Shamet. Many were excited about the idea of adding a potential-filled player with that pick, but Sean Marks opted for a player who is ready to contribute to a win-now team in Landry Shamet.
In just a few years in the league, Shamet has already played with some of the league’s great dynamic duos. He played with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, as well as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers. Now he has a chance to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Shamet is a perfect fit for this roster, as he will serve as a lights-out shooter capable of draining shots off screens as well as an underrated knack of finishing at the hoop. Expect Shamet to get great looks and be a solid contributor with the defensive attention that this potent Nets offense will attract.
4. Taurean Prince is more under control
Taurean Prince was a reliable starter for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2018-19 season but struggled to find a rhythm in his first season with Brooklyn. Last year, shot selection seemed to be an issue with Prince, as often it seemed like he would try to do too much in terms of creating his own offense.
Prince looked a lot more composed in his two preseason games. This can be accredited to playing at his natural position (small forward) again and not forcing shots. Prince played within the flow of the offense and settled into a smaller role, a role he is very capable of playing well. Prince shot 39% from three in the 2018-19 season and 38.5 % from three in the 2017-18 season. With a lighter offensive load to carry, expect Prince to be back to the sharpshooter we knew in Atlanta.
5. Now seems like a good time to buy Reggie Perry stock
It’s not often that a title contender raves about the rookie they added late in the draft, but that is exactly how the Nets organization has been talking about Reggie Perry. Veterans DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green had high praise for the 57th pick out of Mississippi State.
“I love Reggie, the draft pick. He’s a young kid that works very, very hard but knows the game of basketball,” Jeff Green said.
“Man, I love Rook. I love what he’s doing. He is a tough player, no fear out there, a very strong guy and skilled player who can shoot the basketball” claimed DeAndre Jordan.
Perry got 16 minutes of playing time in the first preseason game and finished with five points and seven rebounds. He provided energy and great defense, two attributes that are highly regarded and crucial to establishing a winning culture.
Has Sean Marks found himself yet another draft steal? It’s far too early to tell, but the rookie is certainly showing a lot of promise. I would buy my Reggie Perry stock now before the price gets higher.