Brooklyn Nets Team Previewby Garrett Brooks October 7, 2021 0 comments
The Brooklyn Nets saw a rollercoaster 2020-21 season end in disappointing fashion. After adding James Harden to the mix early in the season the Nets earned the second seed in the eastern conference playoffs. They fell to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, four games to three.
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The Nets were able to retain a key veteran role player in Blake Griffen, who re-signed on a veteran’s minimum contract. After seeing Jeff Green walk in free agency the Nets made a savvy move to sign the arguably better-fitting James Johnson. Outside of the frontcourt moves, they made one of the most underrated moves of all of NBA free agency by signing sharpshooter Patty Mills.
Mills will be a great fit playing off-ball alongside players such as Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The versatile Bruce Brown was retained on his Qualifying Offer while the Nets added an instant bench scorer in the NBA Draft by selecting Cam Thomas with the 27th overall selection. Late free agent addition Paul Millsap brings experience and versatility to a group filled with versatile players.
The Starting Five
PG – James Harden
SG – Kyrie Irving
SF – Joe Harris
PF – Kevin Durant
C – Blake Griffin
The Nets are going to run with their same usual starting five from one season ago. This unit won’t start every game, due to both inevitable injuries and occasional gameplan changes, but they are going to start the majority of games they are available for. It’s a well-fit-together group on the offensive end of the floor.
Where they lack is inside on the defensive end. What Griffin can’t do at the rim Durant is able to help cover for, though. Still, early substitutions will be common when the Nets face teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls. Offensive-minded centers that can have the game run through them will cause the Nets to adjust to their opponents.
The Nets will tinker with their options throughout the season off the bench. That is one of the perks of being a team that is going to make the playoffs with ease just by sheer skill. New addition Mills will play the most crucial role off the bench. He can come in with the starters and be a floor stretcher and he can help run the offense for the brief stretches none of the Nets stars are on the court.
In addition to Mills, Brown will also be an important player due to his versatility. Versatility is the theme of the Brooklyn bench in fact, as the stars can always do the heavy lifting. Johnson, Brown, Millsap, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter will all be crucial off the bench due to their two-way capabilities. Young big man Nicolas Claxton will have the opportunity to secure a role as the backup center if he can become a defensive asset. the Nets don’t need much out of these players so it will be a running competition to see who fits best with their key players.
One Potential Move to Make
The Nets are extremely limited in terms of resources available to improve their current team. It will take creativity and timing in order for a trade to come to fruition, which is why the buyout market could be where they make their in-season improvements. Still, they have a very specific need and a couple of potential assets that could net them what they need.
If they can get a true center off the bench, someone that plays ahead of Claxton when it matters most, it would go a long way to improving their chances in a playoff series against good offensive centers. With Joel Embiid lurking in the conference, it’s obvious the Nets need a plan. A few names come to mind – Robin Lopez of the Orlando Magic and Cody Zeller of the Portland Trailblazers. The Nets could wait until those players are eligible to be traded and dangle someone like rookie Day’Ron Sharpe to the rebuilding franchises they play for. One way or another, the Nets would be wise to add a traditional big man to their frontcourt rotation.
It’s once again championship or bust for the Nets this season. Durant and Harden could both make realistic runs at the Most Valuable Player Award if they remain healthy. After finishing second in the Atlantic Division one year ago, the Nets are in prime position to win the division and make a deep playoff run this year.
Head coach Steve Nash could start feeling uncomfortable if the team is underperforming deep into the season. The limited resources the Nets have to add to their current roster means they could force a drastic move just to shake things up if they feel it will give them a boost. It shouldn’t come to that but nothing is out of the picture if this group doesn’t gel as the season wears on.
Season Prediction: 54-28 and win the Atlantic Division
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