The three-point shooting touch displayed last season by former Nets center Brook Lopez was a surprising revelation and figured to leave a major void in the offense when he was traded away. But forward Quincy Acy, whose three-point prowess was nearly as shocking, is in line now to fill Lopez’s role as a big man capable of stretching opposing defenses.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said as much after Acy scored 12 points and made two of four threes in the Nets’ opening preseason win over the Knicks on Tuesday.
“His shooting is going to be huge for us,” Atkinson said of the 6-7 Acy. “He’s our big that can really stretch the floor. He came in the game and right away you could see the difference. It gives us more space . . . That’s part of his job description is to space the court. I was pleased with him.”
When those words were relayed to Acy following practice on Wednesday, he smiled and shook his head at the notion of supplanting Lopez, who made a team-high 134 three-pointers last season. Still, it was Acy who led the Nets in three-point percentage at .434 (36 of 83).
“You can’t replace a Brook Lopez,” Acy said. “He’s a special talent. But I take pride in my role, and if it’s being the stretch big that coach wants me to be, then, I’m putting the extra work in to make sure I can maintain that.”
Acy is entering his sixth season, but it was only three years ago that he began working in earnest on his three-point shot after taking just 17 three-pointers his first two seasons in the league.
“I knew it would help my game, but the game switched real quick,” Acy said of his decision to develop his shot. “When I came into the league, there were a lot of bangers. I was worried about getting my weight up, getting my strength right and being able to keep up down low with the big guys. That prepared me for now because now I can guard the centers and stretch the floor, as well. I would never have imagined that would be my skill that I hang my hat on.”
It appeared Acy’s role might shrink when the Nets added perimeter shooting in the offseason. But since centers Timofey Mozgov, Tyler Zeller and Jarrett Allen have little experience shooting threes, Acy has a vital role to fulfill despite has lack of true center size.
“We did lose Brook and even Justin (Hamilton) stretched the floor, but we have a lot more shooters as a whole,” Acy said of the new-look Nets. “There’s going to be some funky [undersized] lineups out there sometimes, and sometimes, there’s not. Coach is good at adjusting to other teams. I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
Notes & quotes: Allen Crabbe (sprained left ankle) and Caris LeVert (sprained right ankle) will both miss the Nets’ preseason home opener against Miami Thursday night at Barclays Center.