Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets rookie Cam Thomas shines in shorthanded preseason win over Los Angeles Lakers

Cameron Thomas, Brooklyn Nets
Cameron Thomas [NBA Getty Images]

The 2021-22 NBA preseason is under way with the Brooklyn Nets routing the Los Angeles Lakers 123-97.

Both teams were severely shorthanded with a lengthy injury report, but some role players still established themselves with breakout games to set the tone for the new season.

Below you can find the top performers, best highlights and other key notes from the preseason opener.

The injury report

The Lakers sat LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza, while star forward Anthony Davis only played in the first quarter. Only Ariza was given an injury designation - a sore ankle - while everyone else was just resting.

The Nets sat Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin and James Johnson, all deemed as Coach's Decisions for rest.

Key takeaways

Cam Thomas picks up where he left off

Thomas made a name for himself in Summer League, taking home co-MVP honours after averaging 27.0 points per game. He didn't lose a step in his first NBA preseason action, lighting up the Lakers for 21 points in just 22 minutes of action.

The rookie bucket-getter had his shot creating arsenal on full display, knocking down a number of challenging shots off the dribble.

Although the Nets have plenty of offensive fire power at full strength, Thomas is looking like he could be a microwave scorer off the bench to give the team a boost whenever their star trio needs a rest.

LaMarcus Aldridge returns to the court

Aldridge joined the Nets in the middle of last season following a buyout with the San Antonio Spurs, but after just five games in Brooklyn, the veteran center announced his retirement due to a health condition. After taking the remainder of the season off, Aldridge got medical clearance to return to play, re-joining the Nets for the 2021-22 season.

In his first game back on the floor, the seven-time All-Star had six points, four rebounds, three assists and one block in just 15 minutes of playing time. It was good to see Aldridge back in action.

Malik Monk provides a second-unit spark

Similar to what his role will be when the team is at full strength, Monk showcased why the Lakers brought him in this offseason by providing a spark off the bench. The 23-year-old is looking for a fresh start in Los Angeles and he got off on the right foot, going for 15 points in 21 minutes of playing time in his preseason debut.

Monk is a more than capable shot creator and he showed just that against the Nets.

He'll be a key scorer for the Lakers' second unit, but will also play a role as a spot-up shooter alongside James and Westbrook.

Top performers

Brooklyn Nets

Cam Thomas: 21 points (7-14 FG, 1-3 3PT) , four rebounds, two assists, one block

Paul Millsap: 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal

David Duke Jr.: 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals

Los Angeles Lakers

Malik Monk: 15 points (6-12 FG, 3-6 3PT), two rebounds, one assist, one block

Dwight Howard: 11 points, six rebounds, one block, one steal

Talen Horton-Tucker: 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal

Anthony Davis: Six points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, 11 minutes played

Must-see highlights

LaMarcus Aldridge in his first action back on the floor!

Talen Horton-Tucker rack attack.

Cam Thomas gets buckets. It's as simple as that.

Poetry in motion by Kendrick Nunn.

A smooth up-and-under from DeAndre' Bembry.

Malik Monk is a shot creator.

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