CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Nets lost all three of their veteran leaders from last season. It hasn’t taken Garrett Temple long to earn his way into that role — and the nickname President.
“He fits in so well, on and off the court,” Jarrett Allen said. “He’s a leader. He came in and he didn’t try to push hard, he didn’t try to be overbearing. He snuck his way into being our vet.”
But don’t think just because Temple didn’t ask for the role means he doesn’t relish the responsibility. He wears it as naturally as one of his neatly tailored suits.
“I’ve honestly kind of been that on every team I’ve been on since Sacramento. I take pride in that,” said Temple, whose Nets face the Hornets on Friday night. “The coaches let me know they want me to have that role, which is something I don’t take for granted.
“I want to make sure I go out there night-in and night-out and in practice and play the right way, try to be a pro. That’s the biggest thing is show these young guys how to be pros. … Talent plus professionalism makes for great careers, makes for long careers.”
After losing Ed Davis, Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll in free agency, the Nets had a sudden leadership void. To a man, they say Garrett is filling it.
When Caris LeVert inked his extension, Temple took him aside to talk real estate, and the pros and cons of renting versus buying. That’s off the court. When LeVert got hurt, Temple stepped up on the court as well.
After pouring in 27 points in Wednesday’s win at Atlanta, he’s averaging 15.0 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting from 3-point range in his past seven games. In short, he has been more than the Nets could’ve expected.
“Just everything. First of all the character, the leadership, the professionalism, a guy that understands how to follow a game plan to the ‘T,’ whatever you ask for,” coach Kenny Atkinson said.
“It’s a real bonus, him making shots. He hit some timely ones [Wednesday] when we were struggling, hit that tough floater in the end on the left side. He’s playing great basketball.”
And he has taken on a leadership role almost from the day he walked in the door, not because he asked for it, but because he earned it.
“From the moment he got here he’s a pro’s pro,” Joe Harris said. “That’s his reputation around the league; he’s the ultimate professional, comes in, just takes care of his business. He’s a great leader in the locker room.
“He has nights like [Wednesday] where he’s able to come up big, score, but he always does the little stuff regardless of how he’s shooting. You know the intangible things are going to be there, and the defensive end is always going to be solid.”
Kyrie Irving had given Temple’s name to general manager Sean Marks as a player he’d love to bring to Brooklyn. It didn’t take long in summer workouts for the rest of the Nets to see why.
“We got together in LA in August or July and started [bonding] there,” Temple said. “Even though you don’t play with guys, you still have a certain rapport with them, with guys that’ve been in the league a few years. You might know teammates they played with, so you get a feel for what type of personality they have.
“Personality-wise I do a pretty good job reading people and understanding how to adapt to a certain atmosphere.”
Temple is seen as a potential successor to Chris Paul as players union president, but his nickname “The Prez” goes beyond that, with Harris gushing he could one day run for president of the United States.
“My pops told me I need to wear my suits this year,” Temple said, “so I guess the suits plus the leadership role gives me that name.”