The Brooklyn Big 3: Team Needs
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Entering arguably the most decisive season in the franchise's history, the Brooklyn Nets roster is full of questions, despite star talent up and down the roster. There are glaring weaknesses this team will be forced to address one way or another, the most likely of which would be through a trade.
In the first part of this three-part series, I examined the numerous assets GM Sean Marks has at his disposal to trigger a league-altering move –– perhaps by acquiring the third star to pair with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving –– a vital move in order to fulfill his promise to bring the first-ever championship banner to the Kings County.
What kind of player has the skillset to mesh well with the team and elevate them to champion status on and off the court? This Nets team is filled with players who are known to have mercurial personalities, including the two stars, Durant and Irving. What position does this new player have to play, what are his strengths and weaknesses, and how must his game compliment the others on the roster? These are all questions the team must take into consideration before trading valuable team assets for another star. In the second part of this three-part series, I will answer those questions and more en route to determining what kind of player Brooklyn needs to add to their roster.
First Need: A wing/forward defender
Positions to fill: SF, PF.
The Nets routinely get torched by elite competition on the wing against players like Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Pascal Siakam. Not to mention, if they truly want to be crowned champions, they'll likely have to go past either Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, or LeBron James and Anthony Davis. All four players are stationed at one of the two forward positions, and the Nets will need someone to guard them. Obviously, there are no LeBron stoppers in this league that will shut down any of these megastars, but if the Nets are caught rolling the slim, 6 foot 7, 218lb Taurean Prince at Power Forward for another year, they can kiss the Larry O'Brien trophy goodbye. Before his gruesome Achilles injury, Kevin Durant was one of the more underrated defenders in the league, a 6 foot 11 combo forward, he would've been an optimal candidate to fill this role. However, Achilles injuries have a history of crippling players' athleticism and lateral quickness, and the Slim Reaper cannot be counted on to lock up an opposing All-NBA forward for the duration of a 7-game series. Accounting for all factors, the Nets have needed an upgrade at the power forward position for many seasons, and while Kevin Durant is everything a team could ask for (and more!) on the offensive end, the Nets could still use a defensive stopper at that position.
As for players currently on the team, Wilson Chandler performed admirably considering his low expectations entering the year but isn't by any means a player you can trust on the floor during a deep playoff run. Rodions Kurucs had a disappointing season, though his minutes varied greatly under the watchful eye of former coach Kenny Atkinson, he still has much to prove to earn such a spot in the rotation. Nicolas Claxton has shown promise of being a major piece on the defensive end, but I have my reservations about him playing at the power forward position.
Second Need: A superstar scorer
Positions to fill: Any but PG
You've probably heard the saying "defense wins championships." However, you cannot win by simply only limiting the scoring of the other team; you also have to score points yourself. Basketball is a game of point differential, and if you're overwhelmingly good on the offensive side of the ball while maintaining passable defense, you've set your team up for success.
If the Nets are able to acquire another offensive superstar to pair alongside Irving and Durant, they would be borderline unstoppable and catapulted to clear favorites. And even though Durant and Irving might not be filling in on defense, that could matter less than expected. The Nets would still have to make some veteran offseason additions to help on that side of the ball, but keep in mind, they were already a top 9 defensive team this season without any prolific defenders.
When examining Brooklyn's current roster, only two players have a real shot at becoming true offensive superstars, those being Caris Levert and Spencer Dinwiddie. There is an abundance of similarities between the two guards; both are ball-dominant facilitators who shoot better off a few dribbles versus catch-and-shoot situations. Dinwiddie is more of a true point guard than LeVert –– he’s a player a coach can put his or her trust into to run the offense. LeVert is more easily categorized as a combo guard who can run offensive sets at times but is not a full-time ball-handler. Either way, it seems unlikely either of the two could develop into offense superstardom.
Third Need: Kyrie's Backcourt Mate
Positions to fill: PG/SG
It's no secret that Kyrie Irving isn't a durable player. He's been given the label of "injury-prone,” and whether that’s fair or not can be debated under the sun, he's still missed a significant amount of regular-season games in the past few years. Brooklyn has had PG injury troubles in the past; Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell are both names that come to mind, as well as Spencer Dinwiddie, although his injuries haven't been as severe. This position has left the Nets preaching their "next man up" attitude by often reaching deep into their bench to look for rotational pieces. These diamonds in the rough can sometimes lead to great finds, such as Spencer Dinwididdie, Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot and Chris Chiozza. But sometimes, a career 20% three-point shooter Theo Pinson finds himself on the floor in the fourth quarter or even the trigger-happy Dzanan Musa. Dinwiddie has proven to be a more than suitable backup with Irving out, he found himself starting 49 of Brooklyn’s 64 games this season along with splitting ball-handling duties with Caris LeVert. But with one (or both!) potentially on his way out of Brooklyn in the near future, Sean Marks needs to assure he has a guard coming back as in insurance in case Irving misses more time in the future.