For the second game in a row, it was Cam Thomas and David Duke Jr. who led the Nets Summer League show, knocking out the 76ers, 91-84 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Brooklyn Youth are 1-1.
Cam Thomas finished with 26 points, including a perfect 15 of 15 from the line. He also registered seven assists, the most he had in any game since at least Oak Hill. Duke Jr., who is a restricted free agent, again topped 20 with 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Day’Ron Sharpe, who had the summer league dunk, finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks…
As Nets Summer League coach Adam Caporn said, “I enjoyed it.”
The match was close throughout, with neither team having enough attack to retire.
The Nets entered the fourth with a slim lead, 67-66, but outclassed the Sixers, 24-18 in the final stanza to come forward late and hold it. With 3:45 to go, the Nets had only extended the lead to 78-76 as the Sixers kept coming back. The rest of the quarter, the Nets outshot the 76ers, 13-8. In that streak, Thomas had six points, Duke four.
After the game, Thomas talked about how the Nets wanted him to improve his game.
“Yeah, I just wanna come here and show that [I] could do it,” Thomas said. “That’s what they see, and all they see is how good I am. I think I’m really good at it. But there is always something.
“Not a tenure: just part of every young player’s growth,” Caporn said. “Cam is an elite scorer. He really embraced his growth as a decision-maker, and he showed it,” Nets summer league coach Adam said. showed in the last game too, but it was reflected in the game and he’s getting better with every game.
“And did what he does in leading us in the fourth quarter and in the stretches, still scoring. I see him becoming an elite pick-and-roll player over time. He can find the roll, throw lob passes, see the ground and is so strong holding the ball and in the key lane in tight spaces. It’s a good recipe.
“With him being such a big scorer as he is, he uses that as his benchmark – using his aggression to create the plays for him,” Duke Jr. said of Thomas. “He has good instincts. Being a good goalscorer makes it that much easier to be a passer, because everyone is going to take care of you. He understands that for sure, you can see that game by game.
In addition to the Nets, three key players, Kessler Edwards and Alondes Williams, the two-way Nets redeemed themselves after some poor numbers in the Nets’ loss to the Bucks two days ago. Edwards finished with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-5 threes, one down that stretch. Williams, who recorded no assists against Milwaukee, had five Sunday, nine points and four assists.
Overall, the Nets looked more ready than they were on Friday, though they still have to show they can cut turnovers, giving up 22.
Thomas noted that his teammates who are new to the Summer League look to him for advice, even though he and Sharpe remain the youngest players on the 12-man roster, both still in their 20s.
“It’s crazy when you look at it. A few weeks ago I thought about it because Day’Ron [Sharpe] was like, ‘We’re still the youngest on the team’ and I was like, ‘Man, you’re right. We’re still the youngest on the team, even though we have more NBA experience. So just for them to look at me like that, I don’t take it for granted, because they don’t have to listen to me. I’m younger.”
Steve Nash joins Summer League rooting section
Steve Nash was on hand for the start at 12:30 p.m. local time. He was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in the morning. He sat near Sean Marks and other Nets executives, and joined by his senior assistant, Jacque Vaughn. Also in the rooting section for a second game: Ben Simmons and Royce O’Neal, who were seen talking to Nash and Marks. Simmons turned down questions from beat writers who tried to talk to him at halftime but did so in a joking mood, according to reports. He also did that…
Ben Simmons posted a photo and video with Net newbie Royce O’Neale on IG. The two were clearly watching the Nets together at Summer League earlier today.
He also posted the Day’Ron Sharpe dunk on his IG story. pic.twitter.com/O2LKvdEI1F
— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) July 11, 2022
Nash has not spoken to media other than ESPN’s Zara Stephenson. Stephenson said Nash advised Cam Thomas to focus on his game. When Stephenson asked Thomas for advice after the game, he smiled and said, “That’s what it is.”
Thomas gets buckets
Cam Thomas is averaging 28.5 points so far in those two games. Over his six-game Summer League career, the 20-year-old is averaging 27.5, having led the Vegas Circuit last season at 27.0 in four games.
“Just improving what I can, really improving what they want to work on in the offseason,” Thomas said. “I was named MVP last year, so it’s not a goal or anything. If I happen to get it this year, it would be a blessing. But I’m not really worried about the score, the stats, the MVP. I’m just worried about working on what they want me to work on, so I’m going on the field more in the regular season.
The Nets next play the Grizzlies on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. ET at Cox Pavilion. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.