Sigh of Relief
Watch him play, and one may think: Jamal Crawford. That is the type of player the Nets signed to a two-way contract on Dec. 18. Milton Doyle, a 6’4″ swing man, went undrafted last year after spending four years as a starter at Loyola-Chicago. The Brooklyn Nets gave him a spot on its Summer League roster, and Doyle made the most of the opportunity.
Doyle quickly displayed his ability to score in bunches while playing alongside the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Isaiah Whitehead. Often, Doyle looked more composed and seasoned than the “rostered” Nets players. In his four appearances, Doyle averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in only 16 minutes per game. Even more impressive, however, was his efficiency, shooting 56% from the field and 50% from deep. The successful SL campaign landed him a spot on the Nets G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.
In 17 appearances with the Long Island squad, Doyle continued his impressive play, and Nets fans, including myself, began to worry if another team would capture his NBA rights. During those 17 games, Doyle averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds 4 assists and 1.6 steals, including scoring outputs of 34, 32, 30, 29 (twice) and 28. Safe to say, he can fill it up.
“Everybody always talks about how Brooklyn has a lot of glue guys that helps everybody out… just help these guys out, keep their spirits up, bring energy to the court, playing defense, staying aggressive and making some shots.” That is how Doyle envisions himself fitting in with the “big boys.”
However, do not expect Doyle to come to the Brooklyn squad and earn immediate minutes. The Nets will not roll out a player who is not “NBA ready.” Jahlil Okafor is a fine example, who Kenny Atkinson says is not yet in game shape. At 6’4″, the former Loyola standout weighs 180 pounds. In comparison, Joe Harris weighs 219, Spencer Dinwiddie goes at 200, LeVert at 200, and Whitehead at 215. Milton Doyle will be one of two Nets players under the 200-pound threshold, joining D’Angelo Russell (195 pounds). Expect a roller-coaster between Brooklyn and Long Island for Doyle, similar to the craziness of Isaiah Whitehead’s second NBA season.
Kenny Atkinson was impressed from the beginning, but acknowledges his strength must improve. “I think he came out of nowhere like, who is this guy? Not going to a big school, surprising athleticism, surprising feel to score the ball and make passes. Obviously, I think physically, he has got a long way to go. He’s got to get stronger, he’s got to defend better, but I’m thrilled. I’m a big fan.” High praise nonetheless.
The move to sign him to a two-way contract is seemingly to lock his NBA rights with the Brooklyn Nets. Prior to the signing, Doyle was surely on a short-list of names as other organization’s top G-League prospects.
What makes Doyle unique is his surprising development from his senior year of college to now. As a senior, and the best player on Loyola, Doyle averaged 15 points per game. Fast forward a handful of months, and we’re talking about a player who can score 30 on any given night in the NBA G-League. Heck, there were times during SL action that Doyle looked like the best Net on the floor.
Doyle’s biggest fan is not Coach Atkinson, nor Sean Marks, who played an integral role in bringing Doyle into the organization – it’s his mother, who advocates for her son on social media like it is her job. “She’s excited, she’s more excited than me… Just happy I could make her proud,” said Doyle.
She, along with Nets fan across the globe will support Doyle in his newest basketball opportunity. But for Milton, looks like it’s time to eat.
Doyle will be rocking No. 14 with the Brooklyn squad. Take a peak at what he brings to the table.
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