For two players who seem destined to have successful NBA careers as underrated do-it-all perimeter cogs, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie showed perhaps the most encouraging signs for any Nets fan from this Summer League experience by flashing the willingness to be assertive offensively.
From the opening tip-off of the Nets-Lakers Las Vegas Summer League quarterfinal game, LeVert and Dinwiddie played with lit infernos under their glutes to find their own shots. Whether by moving off-ball attentively to find space for spot-ups, knocking down stepback jumpers, flying down the court in transition in a high-paced matchup, or even just attacking their defenders off simple but direct drives to the rim, LeVert and Dinwiddie did it all to try to quickly score on the often out-of-sorts Lakers defense. LeVert and Dinwiddie combined for 31 points in the first half and 45 for the entire game.
To track the other likely rotation players on the Nets Summer League roster, Isaiah Whitehead also made some typical slick drives out of the pick-and-roll to torment opposing center Ivica Zubac often in the first half. Unfortunately, Whitehead also flashed some of his also typical tendencies to get too wild while on the ball and sputter the offense at inopportune times. Still, Whitehead brought more positives than negatives in the game before leaving the game in the third quarter with a sore knee and returning later with only minor impact on the end.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a passable game where he again made plays with his energy and athleticism to shut down some of the vaunted Lonzo Ball-led Lakers transition possessions and scrape out points from broken offensive possessions. His inability to do much elsewhere consistently persisted against the Lakers but RHJ at his core seems preordained to make positively impactful plays.
Unfortunately, Archie Goodwin could not share in the previous four’s successful nights as an early emphasis on trying to make the Lakers respect his jumpshot went wayward and the usual forays to the rim ended universally with poor finishes.
Goodwin’s abominable help defense and effort felt even more egregious than his 2 for 12 night from the field. Goodwin was not alone on the porous Nets defense in often quitting on rotations but, for a young player hoping to resurrect his NBA potential and a player who has noted defensive effort as a point of emphasis from Sean Marks and Coach Atkinson, the weaknesses bellowed loudly.
As previously mentioned, the Nets defense disappointed in the 115-106 loss to the Lakers. However, undrafted rookie Milton Doyle stood out with his effort in transition on both ends of the court to offer the best bench performance of the night for the Nets.
The former Loyola (Il.) guard’s highlight of the night was probably him knocking down a three pointer, racing down the court to block a ball grasped in the 7’6” wingspan of Thomas Bryant, and then racing back on offense to draw a foul, all in consecutive possessions.
Doyle made his bones at Loyola (Il.) as a jack-of-all-trades guard and, while there remains plenty to see to whether he can make all those trades NBA-caliber, the whirling sequence of highlights displayed in those three possessions somewhat fits Doyle’s potential for contributions to a T.