Nets unveil 2024 Summer League roster with exciting young talents

Apr 12, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Noah Clowney (21) shoots the ball against the New York Knicks during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have released their Summer League roster in an important year for the Summer League team. Kicking off on July 12th this will be the first opportunity to see some of the young players the rebuilding Nets hope can develop into their next core.

Summer League rosters are typically filled with young players looking to get a foothold in the league, either as a deep reserve on the NBA roster, potentially score a two-way contract, or as a member of the big club’s G-League team. That said, sometimes it’s a showcase for key rookies and young players to show off the strides they’ve made in the offseason and start their bid to contend for bigger roles in the season to come.

In the case of the Nets, there are a few key players to watch during the summer league slate that make this year’s squad a bit more interesting than normal.

Big man Noah Clowney looks to show off his skills

Apr 10, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Noah Clowney (21) during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Clowney, a first-round pick in 2023, looks to prove that he’s ready to break into the rotation in the 2024-2025 season. Listed at 6-10 210 pounds, the most pressing question with Clowney is whether or not he can play the power forward position.

The center position is crowded, with newly minted $100 million man Nic Claxton manning the position for the foreseeable future. Day’Ron Sharpe, another former first-round pick, is the primary backup at the position and offers a change of pace as a stronger player capable of banging with bigger centers in the paint and attacking the boards.

The super athletic Clowney has the skills to be a Claxton-like player serving as both a rim runner and switchable defender whom some draft scouting reports compared to former Net Jarrett Allen. The issue with this is, that without further development, he won’t be able to play alongside Claxton and doesn’t offer enough variety to be his primary backup either.

However, if he can continue to develop his outside shot and prove that he can hang as a stretch-four, he could be in line for a starting role and cement himself as a key member of the team’s young core. Last season in limited action he demonstrated just that, shooting 36.4% from three. The volume was limited, however, at just 1.4 three-point attempts per game which calls into question to stability of that performance.

During the G-League regular season, Clowney averaged 17.5 points per game to go along with 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks while shooting an acceptable 33.9% from three on only 2.9 attempts per game. If he continues to display at least an acceptable outside shot on slightly higher volume, he could prove capable of handling power forward duties and prove to be a long-term asset going forward.

Dariq Whitehead looks to prove he’s finally healthy

Nov 25, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Dariq Whitehead (right) makes his NBA debut during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Dariq Whitehead, the second of Brooklyn’s two back-to-back first-round picks last season, looks to prove that he’s finally healthy after barely playing last season. Whitehead struggled in his lone season at Duke undergoing foot surgery before his collegiate career began and a second foot surgery in the lead-up to the 2023 NBA draft. That led to the explosive swingman falling after some believed he was a legitimate lottery talent.

When healthy, Whitehead is a dangerous ball handler who can score at will while also setting up teammates. At six-foot-seven 220 pounds he’s got a developed body and impressive strength for a player that is turning just 20 years old. While recovering from his first foot surgery at Duke, he did most of his damage as a shooter on the perimeter displaying a soft touch while shooting 42.9% from deep.

Health is the question with Whitehead, however, as foot injuries have a history of derailing careers. He was not himself during his season at Duke and played limited minutes in just four G-League regular season games. He played in 13 G-League Showcase Cup games, but still was on a minutes restriction that saw him average just 18.2 minutes per game while struggling and shooting only 36.3% from the field.

If Whitehead is healthy and can reach his full potential he could develop into a star-level player capable of leading a team and being its offensive engine. The question marks surrounding him are huge though, and a healthy and productive Summer League showing would go a long way towards answering those questions.

Jalen Wilson and Mark Armstrong look to compete for bench roles

Apr 6, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jalen Wilson (22) grabs a loose ball against the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

2023 second-round pick Jalen Wilson showed some promise despite inconsistency last season. The Kansas product is a big wing who at times showed some 3-and-D potential despite inconsistent playing time. On the season he played in 43 games averaging 5.0 points per game with a 32.5% success rate from downtown. His shooting was streaky and his cold streaks overshadowed his hot streaks leading him to finish with that underwhelming three-point percentage.

On the defensive end, he’s big and strong enough to hold his own and be an acceptable defender at the NBA level. If he can prove he can consistently shoot from deep with more consistent playing time he could potentially develop into a long-term rotation-caliber player.

Undrafted free agent point guard Mark Anderson is another player to watch. The Villanova product is just 20 years old, and despite measuring just six-foot-two, he’s an explosive athlete who plays above the rim. With an aggressive mentality, a tight handle, and an ability to really score from midrange he’s an intriguing young player.

Averaging 8.4 points per game at Villanova last season, he struggled from deep shooting just 28.2% from three. As a defender, he’s pesky and willing but can be easily taken advantage of by bigger guards. As a facilitator, he still has room to grow, often looking for his own shot before setting up others.

With the perpetually injured Ben Simmons and veteran Dennis Shroder the only two legitimate point guards on the roster, Armstrong could make a push for a roster spot as a reserve point guard with a strong showing this spring.

Nets general manager Sean Marks has made a habit of striking gold with late first-round picks, young castoffs, and unheralded players over the years with the likes of Jarrett Allen, Caris Levert, Nic Claxton, Joe Harris, and Spencer Dinwiddie among his success stories. We’ll see if he’s struck gold again with any of these lesser-known young players who may earn ample regular-season playing time opportunities with strong Summer League showings.

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