It was hard not to love what Rodions Kurucs did in the fourth quarter Wednesday night. He was aggressive, hitting 4-of-6 from the floor and getting to the foul line six times, making five (and we’ll forget about that miss in the empty lane … he called bank, right?).
Defensively, he was a whirling dervish. The kid was everywhere. At one point, he poked the ball away from a NBA veteran point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay, recovered the rock and drove right to the rack for an and-one, putting another NBA vet, Noah Vonleh, in a blender.
Yes, it was a preseason game. Yes, for much of the time he was on the floor — the entire fourth quarter — it was against players who will be in the G League or buried at the end of the New York bench.
But sometimes players just keep popping up where the ball is. It’s as if there is some sort of instinct, sixth sense, inate ability to just know where to be.
Kurucs showed that Wednesday night and that is just not a skill that can be taught.
I was dubious about the glowing reports from Europe, considering most of his time with FC Barcelona was spent with the club’s second division squad.
But he was active, decisive and effective in his first taste of NBA action (Kurucs missed Summer League as the Nets were unable to secure his buyout from Barca until the day Brooklyn played its final game in Vegas).
Here’s hoping Kurucs gets an opportunity to play against higher-level opposition to get a better feel for just what he’s all about. That first glance was tantalizing.