Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said he believes DeAndre Jordan’s ankle injury is “not really that bad,” and the Nets’ big man has been listed as day-to-day entering Friday’s opener of a five-game road trip in Portland.
Jarrett Allen, who has started four of Brooklyn’s seven games at center, would be the starter in Jordan’s absence, with rookie Nicolas Claxton likely to see his first action of the year if Jordan is unable to play against the Blazers.
“I think we can go some different ways with that backup position,” Atkinson said after practice Wednesday. “I think Nic Claxton, he’s gonna have to play some, depending on how long DeAndre’s out. I think Nic, he understands what we’re doing. We love his talent. At some point, he’ll get a shot.
“Hopefully, DeAndre’s back in a snap. I err on the side of caution. We need to fill that position. We have, in Nic and Henry [Ellenson], two guys we think can help us.”
The 6-foot-11 Claxton was the first pick in the second round (31st overall) of the 2019 draft out of Georgia, where he averaged 13.0 points and 8.6 rebounds last season as a sophomore. The Nets also recalled Ellenson, the 6-10 former Knicks forward, from Long Island of the G-League.
“Nic, I was in the same position he was [in 2017], the rookie coming in, the young guy with the whole world ahead of him,” Allen said. “Nic’s gonna come in and bring a lot of energy and play hard and get himself ready for the future.”
Allen has come off the bench in three games already this season after starting in all 80 of his appearances last year. Yet his minutes per game are up slightly from 26.2 to 27.1. and his rebounding average has risen from 8.4 to 9.7 through the team’s 3-4 start.
Allen said he believes working alongside Jordan, a two-time All-NBA Defensive Team designee, already has helped him on that end of the floor. Atkinson added that Jordan — who was signed to a four-year contract worth $39.96 million — is “an elite communicator, like a quarterback” of the defensive unit.
“The one thing for me that he’s helped with is on the defensive end, just talking more,” Allen said. “I think last year I struggled with it, being silent on defense. But now, I think I’ve seen that as a big jump for myself.”
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