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NBA Daily: Rodions Kurucs Thriving in Brooklyn

Basketball Insiders spoke with Rodions Kurucs about his rookie season, playing effectively on both ends of the court, his development and more.

David Yapkowitz

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The Brooklyn Nets had two selections in the 2018 NBA Draft, Dzanan Musa, and Rodions Kurucs. Musa was a first-round selection, 29th overall, but it’s been Kurucs, who was taken with the 40th overall pick, who has made quite a big impact on the Nets’ season thus far.

Hailing from Latvia, Kurucs has actually been a professional basketball player since 2012, prior to him turning 18. He entered his name in the 2017 draft but ultimately withdrew. This past summer, however, he kept his name in the draft and Brooklyn saw enough in him to take a gamble.

He began the season playing very sparingly while splitting time between the inactive list and DNP’s. But by mid-December, he not only was a fixture in the Nets rotation, but he was in the starting lineup.

“It feels good. I kind of had my ups and downs. I was starting but not finishing the games, but it feels nice,” Kurucs told Basketball Insiders. “I’m just doing whatever coach wants from me. I’m trying to do what he says like rebounding, running the court, getting 50/50 balls. Doing all those things, I think that’s how I earned the respect, proving I can be there and help the team.”

In 62 games with the Nets this season, including 45 starts, Kurucs is putting up 8.4 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting from the field. Although he’s shooting 32.4 percent from the three-point line, he’s shown that he’s a capable shooter from distance.

His biggest contributions to the Nets, however, don’t necessarily come on the offensive end. Kurucs may only be averaging 3.8 rebounds per game, but he’s shown a willingness to play tough in the paint, especially on the glass. While he can score, he understands that with plenty of good scorers on the team, they need contributions in other areas from him.

“Rebounds, loose balls, playing hard, bringing that energy and more speed,” Kurucs told Basketball Insiders. “Just always running the court, all the little things that the team needs because we have guys who can score the ball. We need people to do all those little things.”

Even though he’s a rookie, that toughness and physicality are one of the major things that have stood out. Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson praised Kurucs’ physicality last month after a win over the Atlanta Hawks. In a later matchup with the Detroit Pistons, Kurucs’ physical defense on Blake Griffin was key in a win.

He’s done well adjusting to the NBA game, and while he’s adapted to the physicality of the league, he admits that that was one of the major hurdles he had to overcome when it came to the differences between European basketball and the NBA.

“The toughness definitely. I was ready for this, but the toughness is different between European basketball and here. Another adjustment was speed, it’s different here,” Kurucs told Basketball Insiders. “But I think I didn’t have to adjust to much because I already knew how it would be here playing this game. I think maybe mentally a little bit like trash talk and stuff like that. We don’t have much of that in Europe. Here it’s also more of a mental game.”

With the season winding to a close, and the Nets headed to the playoffs for the first time in four years, Kurucs feels like he’s gotten everything he could have hoped for in his rookie season. He’s not only a key contributor, but he’s also a starter who has played a major role in Brooklyn’s drive to the postseason.

While he’s never experienced the NBA playoffs, he’s experienced the drive and determination of this team, and he’s confident in their ability once the postseason arrives.

“I got everything I wanted out of this year. But I just want to finish the season strong, get to the playoffs, enjoy the playoffs cause I’ve never played in the playoffs before,” Kurucs told Basketball Insiders. “Just enjoy the season at the end and get as far as we can. I think we can go far.”

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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