Brooklyn Nets: 1 stud and 1 dud from preseason opener vs Lakers

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07: Head coach Steve Nash of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07: Head coach Steve Nash of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets made their return to the hardwood yesterday against the Los Angeles Lakers, and while neither side played at full strength due to the exhibition nature of the preseason, Steve Nash has to be thrilled with what he saw after the Nets managed to pick up a 123-97 victory in dominant fashion.

After an entire season spent leaning on some of the worst defensive performances you’ll ever see, Brooklyn looked much tougher to penetrate on that end of the floor. On offense, players fighting for rotation space amid tons of competition looked more refined and polished than expected.

While Brooklyn can take solace in the fact that they will have an automatic 75 points a night from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, they won’t get to the Finals without some of these role players stepping up in a major fashion. Luckily for Nash and the Nets, that’s exactly what they saw last night.

The Nets were led by rookie Cam Thomas, who followed up a standout performance in Summer League play by dominating the Lakers in this game. If he keeps playing like this, it will be very hard for Marks to keep the much-hyped LSU alum out of the rotation to start off the season.

The Brooklyn Nets should be thrilled with the play of Cam Thomas.

Thomas might be a bit of a work in progress on the defensive end, but it’s hard to find fault in a game that saw him pile up 21 points in 22 minutes, all while going 7-14 from the field and piling up a tidy +17 plus-minus.

Thomas was drafted to eventually develop into this team’s ace sixth man behind Irving and Harden, as when both players missed time last year due to injuries, their issues with regard to their lack of depth were exposed for the world to see. Thomas will immediately provide a quick fix in that regard.

In addition to Thomas decimating the Lakers, Day’Ron Sharpe amassed 13 points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes of action, while Kessler Edwards showed off the defensive skills and finishing that made him an ideal two-way signing for Brooklyn. Marks’ 2021 draft class is starting to take shape.

If there is one player who would likely request a do-over after struggling to get into a groove Sunday night, it would be big man Nicolas Claxton. With No. 33 projected to take on a bigger role due to his youth and defensive skills standing out in an aging front court, this opener was just a bit disheartening for fans.

Nicolas Claxton underperformed for the Brooklyn Nets.

Claxton received six fouls in just 14 minutes of action making just one of his four shots and turning the ball over three times. Keep in mind, Claxton was apparently coming into this season with so much hype that he was eyeing a chance to take minutes away from players like Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Claxton will almost assuredly correct these issues, but Brooklyn has to be a bit disappointed in the way he performed on both ends of the floor. His propensity for getting in foul trouble had to be the worst aspect of his play in this contest, as that appeared to be one of the main reasons Nash restricted his minutes in the Milwaukee playoff series.

The Nets will have plenty of chances to build upon their preseason success and fix what flaws started to show themselves. If Thomas continues to score as efficiently as he did in the opener, and if Claxton starts to stamp out any of the fouling issues that he has been saddled with, Brooklyn could start the season in grand style.