Shane Larkin finally has the chance to equal draft hype

Shane Larkin’s rookie year in the NBA never got off the ground. He suffered a broken ankle during summer league workouts after being taken with the No. 18 pick in the 2013 draft by the Mavericks. He spent his second season with the Knicks as a 5-foot-11 pick-and-roll point guard playing in the triangle offense — one that is better with bigger point guards, and in which the pick-and-roll plays only a bit part.

Now, as Larkin enters his third season, he’s excited about how his game can progress with the Nets, who have told him they want him to do what made him a first-round pick out of Miami: Use his speed to push the tempo, and run one pick-and-roll after another.

“That’s not the only reason I got here, but that’s a big part of why I got drafted where I got drafted, and why I’m in the league,” Larkin said after Friday’s practice at the Nets’ New Jersey facility before the team’s third preseason game Saturday afternoon in Albany against the 76ers. “Last year, I obviously wasn’t in the best system for my style of game, but this year I’ve been implemented back into a pick-and-roll [offense], so it’s really good.”

Larkin showed some flashes of what the Nets hope he can provide this season in Thursday’s 93-83 preseason win over the Pistons in Detroit, in which Larkin finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes while starting in place of Jarrett Jack, who was given the night off.

It didn’t take long for Larkin to show signs of life, and he had success running the pick-and-roll with Brook Lopez. Both Lopez and Thaddeus Young have the ability to not only roll to the rim, but also to pop out to the 3-point line and knock down open shots.

That gives Larkin plenty of options whenever he’s coming around that screen and surveying the court.

“It helps a lot, just knowing that if I come off, if I’m not comfortable with the shot I’ve got, I can just shoot a pass right to Brook and he’s got his floater from 15 feet,” Larkin said.

“So it really helps with your confidence knowing that you’re going to make the right play.”

Larkin has speed to spare, and at times looks as if he’s going faster than he can control. But speed and athleticism are weapons the Nets haven’t had in the past, and ones they specifically targeted this summer. He was one of their first calls — along with another athletic freak, Thomas Robinson — just after midnight on July 1, and the team is high on his potential to bounce back after an uneven start to his career.

If he’s going to do so, though, he’s going to need to rediscover the shooting stroke he had at Miami, where he shot 47.9 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line — numbers he hasn’t come close to replicating in his NBA career.

Larkin pointed to outside circumstances as the reason why — the ankle injury as a rookie causing him to fall behind in his development, then his unfamiliarity with the triangle last season. But he knows he has to improve this season, and has set goals for where he wants to be.

“I just want to be better,” he said. “I shot 31 percent from 3 last year. … I want to get that up to 35-36 [percent], maybe better. From the field, I want to be 45, 46 [percent].

“Those are things I’m working on, and I feel like everything is progressing well and going to get better.”

If they can, taking a gamble on Larkin this summer could prove to be a wise investment for the Nets.

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