In his last two games, Brooklyn Nets fans have seen a different Sean Kilpatrick; someone who’s gotten ahead of his mid-season inconsistency.
Climax n. 1. the highest or most intense point in the development or resolution of something; culmination. If Sean Kilpatrick were to have a place in the dictionary, that’s where it would be.
In his third season with the Nets, the former All-American has underwhelmed. Opacity along with being a no-name on the professional level fueled his sophomore campaign when he came to Brooklyn. His back-to-back 19-point games in mid-March intrigued fans and raised eyebrows; a 25-point effort threw more wood onto the fire, leading fans, and the organization, to believe they found a diamond in the rough.
The overall dreadfulness that was the 2015-16 Nets was the perfect background. It was a franchise and fanbase starved for excitement from someone who wasn’t Brook Lopez, and Kilpatrick provided that with a career-high 26 points on April 10, the third-to-last game of the year.
He’ll be a millionaire come next season, and not giving him a bigger role after his electrifying 23-game stretch would be foolish. Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson gave him just that, and the 27-year-old came into camp this year as one of the leaders of a young backcourt.
Kilpatrick has split time as a starter and a sixth man; a shooting guard and floor general, and he’s been very inconsistent all season long. His scoring is down to 13.4 from 13.8, and his shooting has also dropped, 41.4 percent from 46.2.
His splits reinforce this thesis:
- October: 14.8 points
- November: 16.5
- December: 14.9
- January: 10.9
- February: 10.0
- March: 14.3 (and counting)
Luckily, Brooklyn has found other guys to create buckets, but Kilpatrick is showing that he’s more than just a scorer. His rebounding and assist numbers are up, and he gained valuable experience playing point guard while Jeremy Lin was hurt. The experiment wasn’t a success, but certain areas were improving. As the games have gone on, you notice a much more comfortable third-year player. Late in games, he’s not afraid to have the ball in his hands and make a play, even though making decisions looked incredibly strenuous when he was first given the reigns.
When I watch him, this year looks to be his sophomore slump. It’s technically his third season, but the first hardly counts because he suited up for just four games.
With young players, development trumps everything, and it’s more so when they’re on a team that’s the league’s bottom-feeder. As great as winning is, it’s just not realistic for the Nets on most nights, so falling back on the play of the core is the next best thing to focus on.
As Kilpatrick has struggled, so has Brooklyn. But that looks like it’s changing.
The last two games, Kilpatrick has gone for at least 20 points — 23 against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday (in a win!!!) and 20 when the Nets took on the Portland Trail Blazers. That’s the third time this season Kilpatrick has put together back-to-back nights with at least 20, but these two were different.
In Portland, Kilpatrick went 6-of-7 from three, creating a new career-high in that category. Monday night, he manufactured his 23 on just five field goal attempts. And that’s because he went to the free throw line 17 times and connected on 16 of them. That’s also a career-best, and Kilpatrick became the 16th player to have at least 15 conversions from the charity stripe this year.
The two sets of 20 before this didn’t display such versatility; despite the threes and aggressiveness coming in separate games, they still came.
If you’ve ever read a book or seen a movie, you know what climax is. The definition that I provided, in the beginning, lacked a synonym — “turning point.”
For some reason, when I was thinking of ways to compare Kilpatrick’s season to a novel, my brain went right to “The Catcher in the Rye.”
While I mulled it over, it hit me: the narrative is the same!
Of course, there are some differences:
- Sean Kilpatrick isn’t a whiny, depressed, cynical protagonist who’s upset with himself because he wants to grow up but can’t.
- I hated this novel when I read it in high school; I don’t hate Sean Kilpatrick.
- The future is nothing but optimistic for the Yonkers native, whereas pessimism permeates Holden’s mind on a regular basis.
As unbearable it is to hear the constant complaining hover above Holden’s experiences like a begrudging rain cloud — the story is very linear and the plot’s easy to follow. It’s a book about growing up that falls under the bildungsroman genre of literature.
Bildungsroman is of German origin and is made up of coming-of-age novels.
Kilpatrick’s latest two games are like Holden attempting to convince Sally to join him as he gets ready to run away after they finish their date. From there, both narratives change.
We have two vastly different turning points that are tied together because of a literary element.
Holden has a red hat while Kilpatrick has an orange sphere, and the latter is in a much better position than his fictional counterpart. All through this season, Kilpatrick has done a great job of keeping his head up high and not wavering even when he was slumping at his hardest.
“The Catcher in the Rye” went on to become a revolutionary piece of literature. Kilpatrick is likely not to be one of the NBA’s greatest players, but who’s to say he doesn’t put together a lengthy NBA career with the Nets.
For Brooklyn to see success, Kilpatrick needs to be a big piece of the foundation alongside Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead, and knowing you had a positive (potentially grand) impact for your team can be just as fulfilling as being an all-time great.
In essence, he needs to grow up. Forcing his will onto his most recent opponents is a step in the right direction.