Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Kyrie Irving has been ruled out of the Nets' preseason opener on Friday, but Kenny Atkinson says his new point guard is picking up defensive concepts 'seamlessly.'
"Very pleased so far," Atkinson said on Wednesday.
Irving will miss Friday's game against Franca Basquetebol due to a fracture on the left side of his face. Irving took part in a team scrimmage on Wednesday while wearing a protective mask. He told reporters on Tuesday that he hopes to have the mask off for Brooklyn's regular-season opener on Oct. 23.
Irving, who joined Kevin Durant in signing a max deal with Brooklyn in the offseason, has been scrimmaging and working out with his teammates for much of the offseason.
"To be honest it's sort of a seamless transition," Joe Harris said Wednesday. "(D'Angelo Russell) carried us a lot offensively last year…. And Kyrie just kind of supplants that role pretty easy and seamlessly. From that standpoint, I don't think anyone is deferring to anybody.
"He might play with a little bit more pace offensively but it's sort of similar," Harris added. "D-Lo, the way that he played the ball was in his hands a lot. And sort of the same with Kyrie. They're both excellent facilitators for themselves but also their teammates."
Irving discussed his decision to sign with Brooklyn in detail last week. He also said he failed as a leader with the Celtics last season. He'll likely be asked to play a leadership role with Brooklyn this season, particularly while Durant is sidelined with an Achilles injury. Based on what Harris has seen on the practice court, Irving has led by example.
"You expect a lot out of him but he brings it every day. He competes hard in practice," Harris, who played with Irving in Cleveland, said. "He can very easily coast and do whatever he'd like. He's earned that in this league. But he competes and he's competed from the moment that he's signed with us."