Dzanan Musa, the Nets first round pick, has become a bit of a footnote this season, after two injuries —one to his ankle, one to his shoulder— and the performance to his fellow rookie, Rodions Kurucs, but the 29th pick in the NBA Draft is still considered a big part of the Brooklyn organization’s future.
Sidelined for another month after partially separating his shoulder, the 6’9” swingman is frustrated as he told Brian Lewis before the Pacers game. He’s made just seven appearances for Brooklyn, averaging 1.7 points in 3.7 minutes per game.
“Yeah. It’s tough sometimes, you know, because my primary goal is to be here and help the guys,” Musa told Brian Lewis. “But I’m happy that we have this seven-game stretch of winning, so I’m happy to see the guys that are winning.”
Musa has played extremely well for the Long Island Nets in the G League, where he’s one of the league’s youngest players. He’s averaged 20.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and three assists while shooting 43.9 percent overall and 35.6 percent from deep. Although he’s been playing the point on occasion, he’s more of a playmaking wing who’s not afraid to mix it up.
Here’s some highlights of the Bosnian’s season so far, including the first video when he did play the point…
And our favorite, a half-court, lefty bounce pass delivered perfectly to Jordan McLaughlin.
As Tim Capstraw said on the YES broadcast, a “glimmer of brilliance.”
Just before he went down, Musa spoke about how he’s trying to improve all parts of his game, that he doesn’t want to be seen simply as a scorer, which is how he made his reputation in Europe.
“I’m trying to prove to everyone that I can do multiple things on the court, that I’m not just some scorer, that I can pass, I can play defense,” Musa told The Post. “I’m trying to prove to my coaches that I can do a little of everything. [I’m working on] ballhandling, a lot of shooting, and passing obviously. I’m trying to just help my guys in Long Island to be better players every day. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Of course, Musa has to deal with more than injuries. He’s facing a logjam at the wing and point, where the Nets are strongest. Kurucs had an advantage (which he took) because the Nets lacked a stretch 4. But the Nets are patient, very, very patient.
Kenny Atkinson spoke to Lewis about Musa’s development in early December, citing a model Musa might shoot for.
“That’s what the G-League is for,” Atkinson said. “Give him opportunities; it’s more that than thinking ‘OK he’s going to be our point guard of the future.’ You know how [good] it is with multiple ballhandlers. It’s great for him to get that opportunity to do that. Can he be like a [Danilo] Gallinari, 6-9, 6-10, can play pick-and-roll. If you have a big guy that’s able to do that — and he definitely has the ability — now all-out point guard, that’s probably going to be a long shot. But I like that we’re [seeing].”
Of course, the Nets have plenty of time. Musa won’t turn 20 until May. He is, in fact, the second youngest player in Nets history, behind only Derrick Favors who of course went to Utah in the Deron Williams deal in February of his rookie year.
So, in the meantime, Musa will rehab his shoulder, grateful things weren’t worse.
“Oh yeah, because my arm just went off. I didn’t feel it for like five minutes,” Musa said. “It was numb. [I couldn’t feel it], not at all. I felt like my arm was gone, so I was pretty afraid.”