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Inside Nets’ puzzling decision to bench Rodions Kurucs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After shockingly pulling Rodions Kurucs not only from the lineup but the overall rotation, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson insists he sees the Latvian rookie as a starter in this league.

“I undertaking him as an NBA starter. I just believe which is who he’s going to switch out to be,” Atkinson reported prior to his Nets played Saturday night at Charlotte.

“He’s obtained a good deal of place for advancement, power clearly No. 1. Maintain capturing, operating on his capturing. But he’ll be a starter in this league down the road.”

Lots of would argue Kurucs, the No. 40-all round assortment in last June’s draft, has already turned out to be a starter. He’s not only the steal of the next round — the least expensive-drafted player in the Increasing Stars activity — but crucial to the Nets’ good results.

Which is what make Atkinson’s final decision to bench him so surprising.

“It’s all suitable. Everyone’s nutritious, everyone’s playing. I’m joyful, just waiting around for my minute, like again in the circumstance I was in prior to,” Kurucs reported. “I’m waiting around for my minute, and when coach takes advantage of me, I’ll be completely ready. [He said] perform your activity once again, added energy, 50/50 balls, rebounds, run the court docket, stuff we want, the sparkle.”

Irrespective of whether he meant spark and it just obtained dropped in translation from Latvian or Kurucs set the shine on the Nets’ year turnaround, equally function.

In advance of Atkinson sat him in their very first activity again from the break — Thursday’s loss to Portland — Kurucs hadn’t gotten a DNP-Coach’s Choice since a loss to the Thunder on Dec. 5, when the Nets dropped their eighth straight to slide to 8-18.

He went into the rotation the up coming activity, and experienced commenced 29 in a row prior to missing the final activity prior to the All-Star break with a still left elbow sprain. The Nets arrived into Saturday 24-17 when Kurucs played and 18-11 when he commenced, but just 6-13 with him out of the lineup and 12-19 when he did not perform at all.

It produced it Atkinson’s contact all much too curious. It was not a situation of relaxation, but maintaining the rotation at a manageable 10 gamers following Allen Crabbe (knee) returned on Feb. 6 towards Denver, Caris LeVert (foot) a activity later on towards Chicago and Jared Dudley (hamstring) Thursday towards Portland.

Kenny Atkinson
Kenny AtkinsonCorey Sipkin

“It’s rough. When you have a very good group all people has to sacrifice for the very good of the group. We have a good deal of men who are willing to do that,” LeVert reported. “Anybody on any given night could not perform, or have a enormous night, and we’ll want them down the extend.”

Owning dropped 6 of eight prior to Saturday, the Nets could want Kurucs’ protection, activity and 7-foot wingspan quicker somewhat than later on.

“We have a good deal of new areas shifting in, coming again from personal injury,” Atkinson reported. “It’s just rough to perform 12 men, 11 men. I do not believe the gamers like it, the employees does not like it. We have been most effective with a 10-gentleman rotation, 9. So it’ll just count.

“He appears to be great and experienced a great exercise session [Friday]. Rodi’s in the combine to perform. Just because he did not perform [Thursday] does not signify he’s not going to perform. He’ll have an prospect going ahead.”

The Nets see Kurucs expanding into a extend four, their largest want. But at 6-foot-9 and just 210 kilos, bulking up will be a prime precedence in excess of the summer time.

“Strength,” Atkinson reported. “Get stronger. Which is critical. Maintain operating on [his left]. He’s suitable-hand dominant suitable now, so he requires to go to his still left a small more.

“But a single issue we know about Rodi: He’s going to function. He’s a prime-stage employee. He’s searching ahead to having the interest and the care this summer time with us. And we’ll occur in excess of to Latvia, much too, I can ensure you that. This is not a a single-way street. Probably I’ll occur in excess of personally, I’ve listened to this kind of great points.”

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