When the Brooklyn Nets tipped off the Las Vegas Summer League, guard Sean Kilpatrick figured to be one of the key players to watch. Through four games entering Saturday, Kilpatrick has been spectacular.
Former Cincinnati Bearcat star Sean Kilpatrick wasn’t drafted when he left school. Fast-forward a couple of years later, he just might be the next starting shooting guard for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets have played quite well in the Las Vegas Summer League entering Saturday. In fact, if not for a last second lay-up by the Washington Wizards, Brooklyn’s Summer League squad would be undefeated. The Summer Nets lost to the Wizards, 87-85, resulting in Brooklyn being 3-1 entering Saturday’s tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Summer League at its core is a chance for unproven players to perform on an increasingly big stage. Each year, there are many Summer League standouts, and feel-good stories of players who torched the Summer League competition, and end up as a regular-season contributor.
For head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets, that player in the 2016 Summer League is Sean Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick has played extremely well over the Nets’ first four games, to the point where one can’t help but envision the type of role he’ll have, come the regular season.
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Entering Saturday’s game, Kilpatrick is averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game for the Nets. Kilpatrick’s best performance came in Brooklyn’s most recent game, Thursday’s match up against the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League squad. Kilpatrick played 28 minutes, scoring 24 points, bringing in 8 rebounds, and dishing 3 assists. Kilpatrick shot the ball a team-high 19 times, but he made 8 of his shots, and also knocked down 7 of 9 free throw attempts as well in Brooklyn’s 87-84 victory.
In March, the Nets signed Kilpatrick to a three-year deal, meaning he won’t be battling for a roster spot. However, there will be playing time up for grabs on a Nets roster that features some turn over with a new regime in place. Brooklyn’s decision to reward Kilpatrick with a three-year deal after he came out of the D-League is a vote of confidence for the 26 year-old guard. These types of low-risk deals are precisely the moves that need to pan out for Brooklyn. The Nets lack draft picks, and aren’t currently in a position to lure top free agents for the foreseeable future. But if players such as Kilpatrick pan out, it’s quite beneficial to the Nets.
While it is a small sample size and only against Summer League competition, Kilpatrick has done everything the Nets have asked and more. He had a brief 23 game stint with the Nets last season, but the new contract was a clear sign that the Nets saw his potential. Over the past week, all of Las Vegas and NBA fans watching around the world have seen Kilpatrick’s potential, as he has consistently been a top performer for the Nets when on the floor.
Kilpatrick is athletic, and has proven in Las Vegas that he can score and lead a unit. The Nets are building with multiple intriguing young pieces, namely Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert, and others, with Kilpatrick perhaps flying under the radar a bit.
The Nets are undoubtedly a young team, with Brook Lopez among the team’s oldest players, at age 28. Kilpatrick isn’t far behind, as he will turn 27 during the 2016-17 regular season, but he spent four years at the University of Cincinnati, which of course makes him older than one-and-done players.
Kilpatrick has been fun to watch this summer, and when the Nets tip-off the regular season, he may well find himself a part of the Nets’ rotation. Part of what is impressive about Kilpatrick is it’s clear he did not become complacent after securing his contract in March. He plays determined, and if he is able to prove that he can keep up this level of performance consistently, it’s absolutely feasible that Kilpatrick earns key minutes when the season gets underway.
The NBA Summer League is not only a chance for players to prove themselves, but it gives fans a glimpse of players they might see in the future. Along those lines, Kilpatrick is using the Summer League as a platform to show Nets fans, and coaches, for that matter, his ability. Kilpatrick has stood out, and it should bode well for him once the games count in the regular season.