Brooklyn Nets: One UDFA who could stand out in Summer League

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: David Duke #3 of the Providence Friars (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: David Duke #3 of the Providence Friars (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets should use their Las Vegas Summer League schedule as a chance to see which players can potentially enter the rotation, stick in the G League with the Long Island Nets, or get discarded altogether. Where does Providence standout David Duke Jr. fit in with that plan?

While the team did lock in Kevin Durant for the next half-decade, finding cheap ways to supplement him in the rotation will be imperative to sustaining this roster, with Brooklyn deep into the luxury tax. Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Kessler Edwards are a solid start, but the Nets need more depth.

Duke arrived in Brooklyn as an undrafted free agent, and he could look to court the favor of some Nets coaches with a strong week in Las Vegas. Marcus Zegarowski might’ve been drafted, and Quinndary Weatherspoon has some history in the pros, but they aren’t guaranteed to get more time on the court than Duke.

Duke was one of the more surprising undrafted free agents to be somehow passed on 60 times. The Nets should consider themselves lucky that he ended up here, and he could prove their trust in him valid by dominating in Vegas.

David Duke Jr. could prove he is able to help the Brooklyn Nets.

Duke was one of the impact players on Ed Cooley’s Friars over the last few seasons, averaging 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game as a 6-5 combo guard. Duke averaged 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds during his final season with Providence.

Duke made a concerted effort to improve his 3-point shot, as he made 40% of his 3-point attempts while taking around four shots per game. If there are two things that will win you the favor of this Nets coaching staff, it’s perimeter shooting and defense, and Duke can provide both.

With Bruce Brown having played more of a small forward role last year, Thomas not providing much from a defensive point of view, and the losses of Spencer Dinwiddie and Landry Shamet likely to do a number on their bench scoring, don’t be surprised if we end up seeing Duke getting some minutes with the big league team.

Long Island has traditionally done a solid job of working with young players like Duke, so at the very worst, Duke could toil in that developmental machine for a year or so.

The Nets need to give Duke as much run as possible in Vegas. We know that Thomas and Sharpe and going to make the rotation. Edwards, Zegarowski, and RaiQuon Gray will likely be G League players who could get some time this year in the rotation. Duke is guaranteed a bit less, so it’s important to see what he’s made of in this crucible.

While not a bad athlete, Duke doesn’t have an elite first step, and the results when it came to creating offense for himself in isolation situations during his college days proved to be mixed. Vegas is the time to either work on fixing that particular issue or show off how much he has improved in that stretch.

Duke likely won’t feature in the rotation heavily this year, but the Nets might be intrigued enough by his defense, versatility, and scoring to toss him a two-way contract. You never know when your name will be called, so having more players like Duke available isn’t a bad idea.

No matter how the Nets want to develop Duke, be it as an oversized point guard, traditional shooting guard with ball-handling skills, or a wing that will snipe from 3-point range, he has all the tools needed to sneak onto an NBA roster. Time will tell if he is able to put them all together.