5. Rodions Kurucs was more Raw-dions, but man, was he active
Rodions Kurucs, taken 40th overall by the Brooklyn Nets in June’s NBA Draft, came off the bench for the Nets to start the fourth quarter Wednesday night and, wow, did he have an eventful 12 minutes of playing time.
Kurucs finished with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, going 5-of-6 at the foul line and finishing with four rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Did he look awkward? Yes. Did he show the tendency scouts criticized of driving to the basket in a straight line? Absolutely.
But here’s the thing: The ball just kept ending up in his hands and when it did, good things kept happening.
The 6-foot-9 forward from Latvia did a little of everything. He crashed the glass, getting three offensive rebounds. He drove with no fear, frustrating the New York defenders into fouling him. Heck, he even brought the ball up and started the damn offense a couple of times.
Not what one expects from a 20-year-old second-round pick.
Defensively, he spent most of his time guarding Ron Baker, New York’s point guard at the time. And he held his own. Baker did hit one 3-pointer and had a couple of assists, but for the most part Kurucs stayed in front of the smaller, quicker, more experienced player.
And again … the ball kept finding him and that doesn’t happen by accident. Players have made fortunes by having the instincts to keep being in the right place at the right time.
There’s a huge asterisk on this, of course. All of his playing time came against New York’s spare parts from the end of its roster. But all things being equal, it was against a bunch of guys fighting to prove they belong in the NBA and Kurucs was the most productive player on the floor.
He didn’t play in Summer League, as he was unable to secure a buyout from FC Barcelona in time to get on the floor in Las Vegas. So this was our first look at Kurucs in game conditions and, ya know what? The kid looked OK. In fact, he didn’t look to bad at all.