Surrounded by the clicking of cameras, bouncing of balls, chatter of expectations and questions directed towards new free agent signings Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan at the Brooklyn Nets media day sits Deng Adel.
The Sudanese-Australian forward has the same expectations as his high-profile teammates about how the Nets will perform this season, but also has one additional and very important goal – make the team.
In July, after his second Summer League with the Houston Rockets, Adel signed an Exhibit-10 Training Camp deal with the Brooklyn Nets. Further to this, earlier on this week the Long Island Nets traded for his G-League rights, showing the Nets organisation’s faith in Adel this season along with allowing them to open up another Exhibit 10 roster spot.
Adel has taken big strides as a basketball player over the last 12 months. After going undrafted out of Louisville, the South Sudanese-Australian showed enough promise at Summer League to earn himself a training camp deal with the eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors, winding up on their Raptors 905 G-League team.
In January, Adel managed to parlay strong performances for Raptors 905 into a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and on January 19 2019, fulfilled his dream and made his NBA debut, going on to play 19 games for the Cavs, three as a starter.
Adel enters his second NBA season a year older, and a year wiser and knows exactly what he has to do to make the roster.
“I did a lot of growing last year,” Adel told NBA.com. “That was my first year of being a pro so last year was just learning as much as I could.”
“Learning from the players, the coaches, the terminology because it’s a different game from college. I’ve learned a lot about positions, what I need to do, what my role is on whatever team I’m on – which is basically being a three-and-D guy, defending, running in transition and crashing boards.
“So for into this year I’ve just come in more prepared, worked on my game a lot over the summer and coming in with a good mindset and ready to be aggressive. This is my second go around now so it all comes a little more naturally.”
Adel was the last guy cut from the Australian Boomers FIBA World Cup team. Whilst disappointed he couldn’t make the trip to China, he pivoted his mindset straight into Nets basketball.
“As soon as I [was cut from the National Team] I got up here,” Adel said. “The staff and coaches were very direct with me and they wanted me to come here early and work on my game and get familiar with everyone, learn the staff, the plays and just get more of an upper hand before training camp.”
“So once that happened I just stayed home for another week to hang with the family and then I came here. The last three and a half weeks has been tremendous for me and I’ve gotten a lot better and I’m more familiar with the style and the system.”
One of the positives of Adel’s time in Boomers camp was having some time to chat with Mitch Creek, who spent time last season with the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets, giving him some insight into what he can expect.
“[Mitch] talked to me about the culture here and how there’s a lot of hard work and you have to bring it every day,” explained Adel. “This team just kind of feels different with the culture, everybody’s straight forward and easy to talk to and it’s just a fun environment to be in.”
Coming into this season, Adel explained that Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson wants to see him make shots, play defence, and make plays.
Last season the 22-year old averaged 26.1% from three for the Cavs and 32.3% from three in the G-League. Adel identified that and is excited to enter camp and show Atkinson and the coaching staff his improved shot and basketball IQ.
“My shooting’s been really good,” Adel said. “For the first year it takes a lot to adjust from the college three-point line to the NBA three so I’ve got a lot of reps up and I just feel really comfortable about my shooting.”
“I’ve also worked on my finishing and getting to the basket and making plays within 0.5 tenths of a second because I’m not going to be the person who holds onto the ball too long, I’m going to make quick decisions. And then defensively, understanding coverages and understanding what we’re trying to do defensively.”
Nets training camp officially begins tomorrow and continues up until they fly out to China to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 13th edition of the NBA China Games on the 10th October and 12th October.