Dariq Whitehead and Noah Clowney Celebrate Memorable Rookie Debuts with the NetsNovember 27, 2023
The latest Nets’ win over the Heat on Saturday night left a strong impression on two of its latest additions. According to the Barclays Center crowd, the NBA debuts of first-round rookies Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead who entered the game in its final minutes, was welcomed with loud cheers. “I didn’t expect it, if I’m being honest,” Whitehead said. “Just coming in, they told me to be ready, so before the game is when I really kind of got in that right mindset of, ‘This just might be your first NBA game.’ Going to the [scorer’s] table, it was a surreal moment, but it was definitely one of the best to ever happen.”
The Knicks picked Clowney, a power forward out of Alabama, with the 21st pick of June’s draft at the Barclays Center. They then took Whitehead, a small forward out of Duke, with the very next pick. Both players became part of Nets history – Whitehead (19 years, 116 days) became the second-youngest player to appear in a game for the Nets, while Clowney (19 years, 134 days) became the third-youngest. Only Derrick Favors (19 years, 104 days) was younger when he debuted in 2010.
Clowney expressed that getting in the game gave him “a sense of confidence.” Whitehead, who is native of Newark, underwent a pair of surgeries on his right foot before being drafted by the Nets. Whitehead scored his first NBA point on a free throw and added a block.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn acknowledged the rookie’s accomplishments. He stated, “They’re part of us, and for them to get their first official minutes, see their jersey, in the jersey, run up and down the floor, it’s a little bit of a glimpse into the future, which is good.”
Both Whitehead and Clowney played with the G League affiliate Long Island Nets before joining the NBA club. Another Nets rookie, second-round pick Jalen Wilson, made his NBA debut Nov. 1 in Miami.