Steve Nash: Nets rookies might not crack stacked rotation

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Sometimes, what’s understood doesn’t need to be said. Yet Nets head coach Steve Nash was loud and clear about playing time for his rookies this season in his ahead-of-the-season press conference.

The Nets selected Summer League co-MVP Cam Thomas at pick No. 27, offensive rebounder Day’Ron Sharpe at pick No. 29, and two-way wing Kessler Edwards, who the team signed to a two-way contract, at pick No. 44.

With such a loaded roster in pursuit of a championship, Nash conceded the rookies will be hard-pressed to find minutes on the floor this season.

“The (rookies) have been in the gym a lot for a few weeks now, and that’s the positive. They worked hard. I think we see NBA players in them, and it’s just a matter of developing them all,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s a tough team to break into, so some of these rookies have their work cut out for them if they’re going to get in the rotation for sure.”

Nash recounted his own journey, playing behind then-Phoenix Suns star guard Kevin Johnson as a rookie. Johnson suffered an injury, which paved the way for Nash to emerge as a Hall of Fame floor general.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you get there,” he said. “That’s what I definitely have preached to some of our rookies already. You’ve got to play the long game, and whether you crack the rotation or not, whether you don’t play a minute or spend some time in the G League, it’s important to think long-term and not give away days. If you have that mentality and attitude, this will be a very productive year for you whether you play or don’t play.”

Both Thomas and Sharpe have an uphill battle to earn minutes in Nash’s rotation.

Sharpe is the fifth big man on the depth chart behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and Nic Claxton. He will more than likely only see the floor if the other centers are in foul trouble, injured, resting or are on the bench because of a blowout score.

Thomas is talented enough to play a significant role on most other teams, but this team has James Harden and Kyrie Irving as its starting backcourt, then Patty Mills off the bench as the sixth man. There is an opportunity for Thomas to get some minutes as the backup two-guard, but Bruce Brown will also see minutes in that role as well.

Edwards could be a dark horse to earn some minutes. He flashed potential both as a defensive stopper and a three-point shooter in Summer League, and the Nets are thin on bench wings. They are especially thin in the three-and-D wing department. DeAndre’ Bembry is a career 27% three-point shooter, Brown is a sub-30% career shooter, and James Johnson is more of a power forward and is a career 30% three-point shooter.

Edwards shot 39.5% from downtown over three years at Pepperdine and 31% from downtown in Summer League.

Still, Edwards is more likely to get extended time in the G-League with the Long Island Nets than play any consistent or significant role with this loaded Nets team.

On a team this talented, blowout wins could become the norm, which opens up end-of-the-game minutes for the young prospects to get some burn. Until then, it’s a waiting game. The wait could very well extend beyond this season.

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