Over the past week, the Brooklyn Nets rookies got to put their talents on display. Ahead of last Tuesday’s game against Toronto, seven players entered the health and safety protocols, and they were all veterans. Brooklyn put a half of a roster on the floor that included four rookies.
Behind Kevin Durant, who is now in the protocol himself, the young players proved that Sean Marks knows what he’s doing when it comes to drafting. The Nets beat the Raptors in overtime and then the Sixers in a tight one before falling to the Magic in Durant’s absence.
Given the current direction that the NBA season is headed in, Brooklyn’s going to have to continue to operate with its “next man up” mentality.
That includes undrafted, two-way rookie David Duke Jr., who scored in double digits twice last week after making his debut with the team earlier this month on Dec. 8. His career high came in Saturday’s loss to Orlando, where he finished with 18 points and shot 46.7% from the floor.
Duke spent three years at Providence College and averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game in his final season as a Friar while earning All-BIG EAST second-team honors. Although he went undrafted, he’s already shown a glimpse into what his future in the NBA will look like.
Rookie David Duke Jr. is proving why he’s a steal for the Brooklyn Nets.
Now that Kyrie Irving’s officially in the process of returning to the Nets, along with Joe Harris returning from surgery in the coming weeks, Duke’s recently expanded role will likely decrease in the future, but perhaps not by too much.
That’s not a shot at the level of player that he is. He’s averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds with the Long Island Nets. The organization has a knack for developing talent, so Duke’s in a good position. Not to mention, he’ll soon have the chance to learn from Irving. It’d be hard to argue the Nets bumping him off the roster after what they’ve seen from him.
As you can see in his college highlight reel, his athleticism stands out. The 6-foot-4 guard can handle the ball and crash the boards as well. That’s translated over to the NBA, where he had 14 rebounds against Orlando and 13 against Toronto.
He has a nice-looking shot, but there were a few instances in last week’s slate of games where he was too timid to take a wide-open look. That needs to improve, but it’s not a major concern because he’s only played in a total of seven games for Brooklyn.
That’s great news for a team that’s been slowed by COVID-19. And the fact Duke is emerging as arguably the most efficient rookie speaks to how the Nets are covered both in the short- and long-term.