1. Active, involved Kurucs is the best Kurucs
Rookie Rodions Kurucs had a very solid night against the San Antonio Spurs, showing more activity on the boards than he has in awhile.
The Brooklyn Nets rookie, named Tuesday to the Rising Stars Challenge as a 40th overall draft pick, had 10 rebounds — including three of Brooklyn’s five offensive boards — and was a pest defensively.
Kurucs had one steal, but his length on the top of Brooklyn’s 2-3 matchup zone caused fits for San Antonio’s mid-range shooters.
He still had some rookie mistakes — his offensive goaltending call that negated a shot by D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter loomed large at the end — and he cost the Nets a bucket when he went for a steal in the backcourt and missed, allowing Derrick White to go coast-to-coast for a layup against an undermanned Nets’ defense.
But his 27 minutes on Thursday were much more good than bad, even as his struggles from the 3-point line continued. Kurucs was 0-for-3 from deep and is now 1-for-19 from deep in his last eight games and has dropped to just 29.5 percent on the season.
Still, it was encouraging to see Kurucs get involved under the glass with more regularity.
Since getting 12 rebounds in a Dec. 26 win over the Charlotte Hornets — his second straight double-digit rebounding game — he averaged just 3.0 rebounds over the next 16 games heading into Thursday night.
The Nets play a lot of small lineups — as much out of necessity as design with all of the injuries they have — and having the lengthy Kurucs mixing it up under the rim helps immensely, as Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis are often the only other players with size on the floor.