Donta Hall, DeAndre Jordan’s coronavirus fill-in for Nets, will be tested in NBA restart

Donta Hall, DeAndre Jordan’s coronavirus fill-in for Nets, will be tested in NBA restart

New Brooklyn Nets big man Donta Hall finally cleared quarantine and participated in his first full practice with the team on Friday. 

Hall, a 6 1/4 u20329 1/4 u2033 stretch big who played his rookie season in the G-League, signed a rest-of-the-season contract with the Nets as a coronavirus substitute for DeAndre Jordan. He spent six days in self-isolation as part of the NBA’s coronavirus protocol.

“The whole process was good, just blessed to be healthy, be here,” said Hall, who averaged more than 15 points, 10 rebounds and a block in 39 games with the Grand Rapids Drive, the Detroit Pistons’ G-League affiliate. “It was a process, but times have been worse in life, so you just have to embrace it. Obstacles come and go, just have to do what you have to do.”

For the Nets, Hall’s arrival is a sigh of relief. With Wilson Chandler opting out and Jordan and Taurean Prince testing positive for the virus, Brooklyn has been thin in the front court. 

Jarrett Allen is the only true center on the roster. Rodions Kurucs showed potential as a small-ball five in the Nets’ first scrimmage, but he conceded the center spot isn’t meant for him long-term. Even Joe Harris and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — two wing players — are expected to see time at power forward due to the team’s lack of size.

Hall is an addition that immediately addresses that need. The big man out of Alabama went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft but averaged 10.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game his senior year on the Crimson Tide. 

He also said his time on the Grand Rapids helped improve his three-point shot. Hall only attempted one three-pointer in all four years at Alabama but converted on 7 of his 27 attempts from three (26%) in his first year with the G-League. Brooklyn has the potential to run a five-out scheme if the center can space the floor and hit from downtown, and it’s the offense interim head coach Jacque Vaughn likes to run when Kurucs, a 39% three-point shooter, is in at the five. 

“They gave me a lot of confidence to shoot the ball, gave me freedom to do what I wanted to do most of the time honestly,” he said. “But just having fun with the game, that confidence comes, just shooting the ball.”

Hall did not have access to a hoop or basketball court at home while quarantining when the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States, but he said he made it a priority to keep up his conditioning through in-house workouts and the bike during lockdown. That conditioning is set to be the first of many tests the rookie will face in the NBA’s Orlando gauntlet.

Nets’ interim head coach Jacque Vaughn has let it be known: Hall is going to be thrown into the fire, though he will not play in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Spurs. Allen cannot play a full 48 minutes at center, and Hall spent time at both frontcourt spots in the G-League. He is getting up to speed as quickly as he can. This is his second day spending time around the team, though Hall did not actually work out with the rest of the Nets on Thursday.

“It actually went great. Just getting back in the groove of things, getting up and down the court a little bit, just getting my legs back up under me,” he said of his first full practice, noting he also did some film work. “I also did that, watching practices and stuff like that. Talked to a couple of the guys in the organization and things like that, keeping me up to date what was going on.”

Brooklyn only has two more scrimmages left, and they’re underdogs in each. In truth, they’re underdogs in the majority of the games they’ll play the rest of the way.

The Nets need all the help they can get, and Hall wants to help in the ways he knows best.

“Just do my part, bring the energy, get up and down the floor, block shots, just being that guy to bring the energy, doing the dirty work, what I always do,” he said. “I feel like if I bring that I can bring energy for a lot of other things.”

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