NY Sports Day
Anthony Rushing

Rushing: Nets’ Rookie Rodions Kurucs Deserves More Playing Time

Nets second-round draft pick Rodions Kurucs has the hustle and grit. It’s time to see what he can do in an expanded role.

Brooklyn’s 99-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday night at home, was their seventh-straight defeat. But the offensive lift they received from Kurucs almost put them back in the win column.

Kurucs finished with 12 points off the bench, all coming in the second half. The rookie brought the energy Brooklyn was lacking and his play ignited the crowd.

“He just plays hard,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said afterwards. “He’s got extreme energy, but he turned the game for us and got us back in it. His energy was contagious. He gets in there, so it’s good news for the Nets. Disappointing loss, but to have a young player like that contribute at this level this early is good news.”

The timing is ideal for Atkinson to shake up his rotation. The Nets are 8-17 and struggling on both sides of the ball. There’s still room for player development while also lighting a spark for your struggling team.

Brooklyn’s offense thrives on ball movement and strong shooting. They’re lacking, however, when it comes to getting tough points around or under the basket. This becomes a problem on nights where they’re shooting bricks from the field. The Nets were 10 for 40 from the three-point line against Cleveland. They took 40 attempts, that’s ridiculous.

Kurucs has excellent feel for when to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, there’s very little hesitation in his game.

“I just played tough, and that’s it, every game,” said Kurucs afterwards in the locker room. “If I go on the court, I play tough. I use my minutes, and that’s it. My role on the team is to help the team, to help the guys, to bring energy, so that’s what I’m trying to do every game – help them.”

 

 

It’s everything you want to hear from a player, especially a rookie. The Nets don’t need Kurucs to be their 30-point a night scorer. They do, however, need a player who understands his role and wants to excel at it.

“He’s in the conversation, you can’t deny it,” said Atkinson when asked about more playing time for Kurucs. “We’ll have to look at it. We’ll have to consider getting him minutes. I think he’s shown that he can do it. Now, it’s a competitive environment in the NBA. Minutes are out there, and guys have to compete for minutes, but he’s definitely earning some playing time.”

The Nets shouldn’t just have the conversation about more playing time for Kurucs, they should act on it. The rookie is still developing, but the Nets have to look at different methods to cure their losing ways. Expanding the role for Kurucs is one way.

 


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