Cam Thomas isn’t the only former first-round pick who’s off to the best start of his career with the Nets.
Lonnie Walker IV, the 18th overall pick by the Spurs in 2018, enters Friday night’s game in Boston third on the Nets with 16.3 points per game — despite playing just 22.6 minutes per so far this season.
“A great acquisition for us this offseason,’’ Jacque Vaughn said after the ex-Miami Hurricane scored a team-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers. “I’m just growing to trust him more and more.”
That comes with Walker shooting a career-best 51.9 percent from the field.
And Vaughn’s confidence in Walker resulted in the Nets running multiple plays for the 24-year-old shooting guard late in Wednesday’s win.
The difference, according to Walker, is “just genuinely understanding just the game [and] kind of slowing it down. I used to always play 100 percent going too fast without really analyzing the game.’’
The added work began to pay off last season, when Walker was with the Lakers and played a key role off the bench in their victory over Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals.
Walker said that success has helped him in the early going this season.
“Considering all the ups and downs and the roller coaster [of my career], and then being able to play in the playoffs and play how I did, it carried over to this season,” Walker said.
Vaughn, though, said Walker still needs to work on other parts of his game, from defense to rebounding, but added he’s “done a heck of a job.”
The Nets are third in the league with 19.8 fast-break points per game, but that success is largely due to Ben Simmons’ ability to push the ball.
In the team’s first game without Simmons, which came Saturday in a loss to the Celtics, they had just seven fast-break points.
That number improved to 14 without Simmons against the Clippers.
“With or without Ben, we have to push the basketball,’’ Vaughn said. “This half-court style of basketball is a tough way for us to live.”