Brooklyn Nets: Five Thoughts One Month In
We are a month into the season and the Nets are sitting in the seven spot in the East at 7-8. The injury riddled team is off to a rocky start, here’s five thoughts on the team’s first month.
1. The bench rotation needs to be figured out, ASAP
Through the first 15 games of the season, the Nets have had 14 different players averaging over 10 minutes per game. I get that the two best players on the team have been injured, but the back end of the rotation is a mess. Kenny Atkinson has yet to figure out what works best off the bench, and it’s affecting the team in the win column.
Nic Claxton has shown flashes of being a key role player on this team, yet he didn’t play in Brooklyn’s recent outing against Charlotte. Rodions Kurucs was a key piece to the 2018-19 team, yet has only played nine games. Through four games with the Nets, Iman Shumpert is shooting 34% and has only recorded one assist in over 16 minutes per game. If the Nets are going to be successful, they need to get back to what won them games last season, a strong, efficient bench.
2. The Nets have something in Taurean Prince
In late June, the Nets shipped Allen Crabbe and two protected draft picks to the Hawks for Taurean Prince. At the time, not much was made of the Nets grabbing Prince, as the main purpose of the deal was to clear cap space for Durant and Irving, but Prince has proven the Nets got more than salary room.
Starting all 14 games for Brooklyn this season, Prince is filling in for one of the Nets biggest holes from last season, the ability to play the four. Among players taking at least five shots per game, Prince is shooting at an eFG% of 52%, third on the team.
His 109 defensive rating trails only Jarrett Allen for lowest in the starting rotation, and on top of that, he’s shooting 64% from the right corner. Prince signed a two year, $29M extension with the Nets, and considering he’s only 25 years old, he still has room to grow.
3. It’s time to worry about Caris LeVert
It’s year four for Caris LeVert, and he’s yet to start more than 26 games in a season. Each year, he seems to compile injury after injury, and it’s hurting the team. Specifically, his two most recent injuries, the knee and the thumb, have/will cause him to miss at least a month of action. When he’s on the floor, we see the potential, and the Nets saw it too, handing him a three year, $52.5M extension over the summer.
LeVert excels at getting to the rim, his floater, when he’s on, is nearly unguardable, we’ve even seen him extend his range and become an efficient three-point shooter. The Nets are relying on LeVert to be the third star when Durant comes back, but it’s hard to imagine him as that if he cannot stay on the court.
4. Block out the haters, Kyrie is home
Through nine games, Kyrie is on track to have the best season of his career. He’s on track to set new career highs in points, assists, rebounds and FT%. As expected, much has been made about how Kyrie is in the locker room, in fact, the biggest question coming into the season was how Kyrie would be after what happened in Boston.
Recently on First Take, Stephen A. Smith said he’s heard rumors that things aren’t going well in Brooklyn for Kyrie and the Nets. However both players and reporters have come out saying the complete opposite, including Jarrett Allen calling it “A complete lie”. Nets fans, it’s too early to dive into Kyrie in the locker room, as long as he’s smiling, we shouldn't be worried.
5. What are we doing with the new jerseys?
Look, we love the Coogi color, the jersey last season was perfect. We heard the rumor of the team making it white, and that happened, however, it says “Bed-Stuy”. Last time I checked, the Nets don’t play in Bed Stuy, so why did this happen? Yes, Biggie is from the neighborhood, but overall as a jersey, I just don’t get it.