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When the Nets drafted Kessler Edwards with the 44th-overall pick last July, the Pepperdine product knew it would be a challenge to find minutes with the team’s veteran roster.
It took some time, but Edwards has found his role as a 3-and-D wing and he’s beginning to excel in it, too, at a time when the Nets certainly need the help.
“It’s just been really fun, a long journey full of surprises,” Edwards said after recording 16 points and six rebounds in the Nets’ win over the Pelicans on Saturday. “Don’t really know what to expect. I’m finally starting to get into a rhythm, knowing what to do, what’s going to happen and stuff like that.”
Edwards, playing on a two-way contract, started his third straight game Saturday and could continue to crack the starting lineup with the way he has played. That’s especially the case after the Nets lost Kevin Durant to a sprained MCL for likely the next month-plus and Joe Harris remains sidelined after November ankle surgery.
The 21-year-old Edwards got his first real shot at big minutes during the Nets’ COVID-19 outbreak last month. Overall, the 6-foot-8 forward is shooting 41.7 percent from deep and has delivered a solid defensive presence in 11 games.
“We know that he shot the ball well in college [a 39.5 percent 3-point shooter],” coach Steve Nash said. “It feels like he’s refined his mechanics. That’s what my eye says. It had quite a pronounced motion to it and now he seems to have really streamlined the motion and taken a lot of that out. Most importantly, he looks confident.”
Edwards is just one of the Nets rookies that has broken out of late, as Day’Ron Sharpe, Cam Thomas and David Duke Jr. have all added encouraging performances.
“Feels like we’re stuck together since summer league,” Edwards said. “Been on Long Island [in the G-League], been everywhere together. I’m just proud of all of us and it’s good to see all of us being successful, having an impact on this team.”
Patty Mills chipped in 21 points Saturday for the second straight game after a rough seven-game stretch in which he averaged just 6.7 points on 28.3 percent shooting from the field. Nash gave him Thursday’s game off to rest but he came back Saturday looking sharp.
“He missed a game, which was good,” Nash said. “I think that is really important, try to give him a little bit of relief because he’s been playing so hard for us this year, so I think that helps.”
LaMarcus Aldridge is probable to play Monday against the Cavaliers after missing the last five games with right foot soreness.
Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) is questionable while James Johnson (non-COVID illness) and Paul Millsap (personal reasons) are out.