Hello and welcome to another edition of the “Making the Leap” series where I talk about certain players taking their game to the next level. A couple of days ago I talked about Justin Anderson of the Dallas Mavericks. Today, I’ll be talking about Sean Kilpatrick of the Brooklyn Nets.
Sean Kilpatrick’s road to the NBA was not an easy one. After a successful career at the University of Cincinnati, which included a scoring average of 20.6 points per game his senior season, he was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft. After not getting selected he spent time in the D-League between the Santa Cruz Warriors and the Delaware 87ers. He was signed to a 10-day contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. During his tenure he played in four games and averaged 5.5 points while playing 18 minutes per game. Once the 10-day deal was up, he was not offered another contract and went back to the minors.
Last offseason he played for the Milwaukee Bucks summer league team and was signed to the New Orleans Pelicans, but was waived before the 2015-2016 season began. After playing with the 87ers for a few games, the Denver Nuggets signed him to two separate 10-day contracts. During those 20 days, he played in eight games and averaged 3.4 points per game. Once the second 10-day deal expired, the Nuggets decided not to sign him for the rest of the season and he would return to the D-League.
He finally found a role in the league once he signed with the Brooklyn Nets on February 28. He ended up setting career-highs in points and once both of his 10-day deals were up, the Nets signed him to a multi-year contract.
Sean Kilpatrick’s 2015-2016 regular season stat line with Brooklyn: 13.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.1 blocks while shooting 46.2% (including 36.1% from three) in 23.2 minutes per game. He played in 23 games for Brooklyn, starting none.
It was impressive to see what the journeyman did in just a short time with the Brooklyn Nets. At times, the Nets looked absolutely horrible, but despite that, Kilpatrick was still giving it his all whenever he was on the court. Even then interim coach Tony Brown commented on his play.
“(Sean) came in here, made the best of his opportunity and got himself a new contract based on his play. And if they can’t see that, something’s wrong with them,” Brown said. “I’ve been there — I’ve played in the NBA, I’ve played semi-pro to hopefully get called up, so I’ve been in that situation, and you always want to have an edge when you play. You’re always trying to prove yourself, so this is an opportunity for guys to do that. If they don’t take advantage of the situation, that’s on them.”
His desire and passion landed Kilpatrick a three-year contract, with the first year fully-guaranteed. So how will he do with a full offseason under his belt?
Well for starters, it would not surprise me if he ended up playing for the Nets summer league team. While he did earn a nice contract, I think he still has more to prove to show that those 23 games were not just luck.
His ability to score and play defense will earn himself a nice rotation spot. With the team not having any draft picks or backcourt players, we might see Kilpatrick take an even bigger role as the season progresses.
I for one am a huge fan of Sean Kilpatrick. He bounced around from the pros, summer league and D-League and never gave up on his NBA dream. Kilpatrick proved that undrafted players can also have nice NBA careers.