4. Rodions Kurucs is the better rookie at this point
Rodions Kurucs is looking like an absolute steal by the Brooklyn Nets with the 40th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft.
Thought to be ticketed for the G League’s Long Island Nets, Kurucs has been a force for much of the preseason, a trend that continued on Friday after a shaky outing in Montreal Wednesday.
Kurucs got the shortest amount of burn of the Nets who played Friday, just 12 minutes, but did he ever make the most of them.
He finished with 10 points, three rebounds and a blocked shot, hitting 4-of-5 from the floor and making a pair of free throws. His lone miss was a 3-pointer.
Kurucs showed some nifty moves with the bounce to create space on a couple of jumpers and made a nice play on a putback after Joe Harris missed a layup.
Of course, he also got T’d up on the play for hanging on the rim and slapping the backboard, a sequence that drew some amusement from the guys on the bench — particularly head cheerleader (and I say that with respect, by the way) Alan Williams and Jarrett Allen.
Kurucs plays with tremendous energy and has generally been making good things happen when he’s gotten opportunities. He’s more advanced than anyone thought he might be at this stage and he’s ahead of first-round pick Dzanan Musa on the NBA-readiness scale at this point.
He’s also one of “those guys,” a guy who plays hard, makes all these amazing hustle plays and then, inexplicably, does something that makes you want to pull your hair out, such as whiffing on a dribble and losing the ball … or doing pullups on the rim after a terrific play.
The rotation will be altered when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is back, perhaps as soon as Wednesday night’s opener, but it’s going to be hard to keep Kurucs nailed to the pine if he keeps making impact plays.