WASHINGTON — From unheralded second-round pick out of a mid-major just hoping to make the roster, to starter on an NBA title contender, Nets rookie Kessler Edwards has had such a fast rise even he wouldn’t have believed it if he’d been told it would work out this way.
“I’d be very surprised, honestly. Especially midseason. I felt like I knew I’d get a chance. I feel like I thought it was gonna be like later in the season,” Edwards said Wednesday before the Nets faced the Wizards. “Definitely didn’t think I’d be starting, doing all this at this time. So I definitely wouldn’t have believed it.”
Edwards started a fifth straight game Wednesday. Kevin Durant spraining his left MCL on Saturday has left a gaping hole in the Nets’ lineup, but Edwards had begun playing before that. The Nets have been missing wing Joe Harris since mid-November after ankle surgery and have cycled through various replacements.
Edwards, a rookie from Pepperdine, might be the most intriguing.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder has provided length and switchable defense, with three blocks in his first start, against the Magic, and three steals in his next, against the Bulls.
But it’s his combined 7-for-11 shooting from 3-point range in his two games before Wednesday that have buoyed the hopes he could be the 3-and-D wing all teams look for.
“He’s really coachable. You tell him to do anything and he’ll give it his best shot. Competitor,” Patty Mills said. “He’s quiet, but you can see that he’s calculating the things in his head to be able to go out and get the job done. Super-athletic obviously, can shoot it.
“I’m just really pleased with his ability to want to learn and want to get better and do the small stuff for the team that not a lot of people want to do.”
DeAndre’ Bembry (back spasms) and Paul Millsap (personal reasons) were out against the Wizards. Bembry had been questionable before being scratched.
“[He] was hopeful to play and it just feels a little bit laboring because of it or held back by it. It could be a wise decision just to make sure you try to get through it with a couple more days,” said coach Steve Nash, who was noncommittal about Bembry playing Friday at San Antonio.
“It’s day-to-day. So hopefully we’ll be in the same position and wake up Friday the Spurs game say hopeful to play,” Nash said. “And hopefully at that time he’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ But if not, it will be again the next game. But it’s not like he needs a week off.”
Nash said Millsap might not join the Nets on their current trip. The veteran big man missed eight straight games before making a cameo on Jan. 13. He has been away for personal reasons in the three games since. … Harris has commenced very light shooting, but is still not close to high-intensity work.
The Nets’ game Feb. 10 at Washington has been moved to 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by TNT.