Nets

Nets’ New Youth Replacing Old Future

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No need to sugarcoat it– the Brooklyn Nets are stuck in a bit of a rough patch.

Brooklyn is an underwhelming 5-7 over their last 12 games. In those seven include some noticeably bad losses to teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and a Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers squad.

If there’s any bright side, however, Brooklyn’s four rookies have stepped up in a big way.

Cam Thomas

Perhaps the most well-known of the Nets youngsters so far, Cam Thomas has had fans excited since before the season even began. Thomas first grabbed headlines after icing a Summer League game against the Wizards with one of the more impressive game-winning shots you’ll ever see. 

The natural scoring ability led Cam to find the court pretty quickly when the Nets suffered their first few injuries this season. The 20-year-old has scored 20 or more points in three of his last six games. Not to mention Cam hit another game-winner in overtime against the Spurs earlier this month.

Even when Brooklyn gets fully healthy again — if that ever happens — Thomas figures to have his role carved out. 

Day’Ron Sharpe

Over the last few weeks, Day’Ron Sharpe has been thrust into the Nets’ big-man spotlight and, for a 20-year-old rookie, has impressed in his extended court time. Sharpe has been starting recently with Nicolas Claxton and LaMarcus Aldridge both dealing with nagging injuries. In the Nets’ recent drubbing of the one-seed Chicago Bulls, Sharpe scored 20 points for the first time in his career. Just a few nights later, the former Tar Heel recorded his first double-double in a win over the Pelicans. 

Sharpe is still far from a complete player, but he’s not expected to be at 20 years old. While he has notable flaws like foul trouble (he’s recorded five or six fouls in three of his last five games), Sharpe has provided solid play at a position where the Nets desperately needed it.

So often the Nets play well on offense, but get absolutely killed on the boards. Sharpe’s presence certainly helps to lighten that blow.

David Duke Jr.

From an undrafted prospect out of Providence to finding the spotlight for a serious title contender, there is no more shocking rookie in Brooklyn than David Duke Jr. 

Duke has admittedly seen his minutes diminish a bit throughout the last stretch of games, but with inconsistent team availability, he has done more than enough to warrant consideration for more playing time and even more starts. Duke’s best performance to date came in an overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors back in December, recording his first double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes. This line helped the Nets win a game in which both James Harden and Kyrie Irving were unavailable.

His energy is undeniable. 

Kessler Edwards

While Cam Thomas has garnered a lot of attention thanks to his impressive scoring ability, no rookie has captured the support of Nets fans — at least on social media — as much as Kessler Edwards. The energy on both sides of the court, ability to start at the four and impressive accuracy from beyond the arc highlight why this second rounder has Nets fans thrilled about his future.

The Pepperdine alum has been shockingly important to this Nets crew. In the aforementioned overtime win against Toronto, Edwards logged a whopping 44 minutes, dropping 17 points and 10 rebounds. Prior to that, Edwards had logged a total of 12 NBA minutes.

That’s as good an endorsement as any that this rookie is more than ready to contribute in dire time of need.

The story of how these four fully impact the Nets’ season has yet to be written. The return of Kevin Durant and Joe Harris (plus Kyrie’s uncertain future), is sure to impact just how much shine these youngsters get. Many were quick to condemn the Nets’ future due to the massive draft capital given up in the James Harden deal.

For that reason, finding talent like this so late in the draft should garner some serious credit for the Nets’ scouting team.

About Frank Cannistra

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