On Dec. 14, the Brooklyn Nets took down Toronto with the NBA’s minimum requirement of eight players. Kevin Durant might’ve led Brooklyn with 34 points, but it was the rookies who stole the show that night.
Kessler Edwards, David Duke Jr., Day’Ron Sharpe, and Cam Thomas made up half of the Nets’ roster and helped the team win two memorable games. Now that Brooklyn’s clear of the health and safety protocols, the rookies’ roles have diminished, but that shouldn’t be the case.
With Kyrie Irving back in the lineup for road games, Steve Nash won’t have to turn to his younger players as much … except he’s already failed to do just that in Irving’s absence. It took until the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 118-104 loss to the Grizzlies on Jan. 3 for Nash to bench the team’s starters.
It’s clear that Nash needs to open his mind in terms of rotations, and that starts with increasing the minutes of players that have earned the right to be out on the court more.
Because of that, here are three players who deserve more minutes.
3 Brooklyn Nets players who deserve more minutes
3. David Duke Jr.
Duke went undrafted in 2021, and he’s already played in meaningful minutes for the Nets. Those have all come within the last month, because the rookie made his season debut with the team on Dec. 8 against Houston.
Since then, Duke’s played in seven games and has started four of those. In a surprising turn of events, he started against the Pacers on Jan. 5 during Kyrie Irving’s season debut.
He’s averaging 23.3 minutes, 6.4 points, and 5.6 rebounds per game. His final game of 2021 was on Dec. 18 because he entered the health and safety protocols.
His career-high is 18 points, which came in a loss to Orlando. However, perhaps what’s most impressive about Duke Jr. is his rebounding ability. He pulled down 13 boards against the Raptors and added 14 more against the Magic.
It’s no secret that Brooklyn struggles on the glass. Against Memphis, the Nets were out-rebounded, 62-33. Duke played in nine minutes of that game but didn’t contribute anything on the glass. However, he’s still shown in a short amount of time that he has a place on the floor.
His shot is still a work in progress, but Duke’s rebounding and burst of energy are something that Nash should turn to more often, especially during the games where nothing else is working.
Duke’s been a wild card, but he’s proven to be valuable. Why not get him more experience after his impressive showings?