It was only a year and a half ago that I wrote about how former Cincinnati Bearcat Sean Kilpatrick deserved an NBA contract.
After that, it took another half season in the NBA D-League along with a handful of 10-day contracts before he finally netted (nailed that pun) a multi-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, which he signed last spring.
That meant, for the first time in his professional career, Kilpatrick was going to start an NBA season on an NBA roster. Through the first six games of the season, its clear that the Nets made a smart move and have found a building block for what could be a slow (and painful) rebuild. Due to trades that cost them a number of first round draft picks, the Nets have had to look deep to find potential contributors as they navigate a difficult process that began when their trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett did not yield the super team they imagined.
Kilpatrick could very well be the brightest diamond the Nets found in the D-League rough. As NetsDaily pointed out yesterday, Kilpatrick has exceeded expectations and is molding into a pillar for the 2016-17 team and beyond.
In all six games this season, Kilpatrick has scored in double figures, averaging 17 points per game. But Kilpatrick has not just forced his way to points. On the contrary, his development as a player has been most noticeable in his ability to find better looks and shoot efficiently. Even when he was earning national awards with UC, he tended to carry an incredibly heavy offensive load and it showed in his efficiency numbers (career .419 field goal percentage). With the Nets this season, he is shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and, even more impressively, 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. In his best game of the early season, Kilpatrick scored 24 points on 8-of-13 from the floor while hitting all four shots from beyond the arc. He also had 10 rebounds and three assists in that one, a 109-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons. With efforts like that, Kilpatrick has made himself a key and effective piece for the Nets. He is third on the team in PER (20.4) and first in true shooting percentage (.591).
Aside from scoring, he has also manged to average 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, while remaining active on the defensive end, which is something you’d expect from a Mick Cronin disciple. He is averaging 1.2 steals per game and although his defensive rating isn’t great (107) he has proven to be a better defender than current starting shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic. Perhaps that’s why there is some push from internet types for Kilpatrick to get into the starting lineup.
Its early yes and the sample size is small, what with not even 10 percent of the season gone by, but the way Kilpatrick has worked on and developed his game since graduating from UC shows that he has a future in the NBA. Its good that it didn’t take too long for a team to figure that out.