Who’s Best With The Nets’ “Big 3”? Because It’s Not Reggie Evans

Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez

Who fits best next to these guys? The answer may surprise you. (AP)

While you may disagree on the order of importance, any reasonable fan, analyst, or writer would agree that Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez are the three most important players to the Brooklyn Nets. Each player serves as an important fulcrum to the lineup, which is why the Nets play sparse minutes without at least one of them on the floor.

Because of that, I decided to take a look deeper into the numbers, to see how the Nets play when the “Big 3” share minutes with the team’s role players. Specifically, I wanted to answer this question: how is the starting lineup best handled with the team’s best players?

Because of that, I took a look at five Nets players who have the best chance of shaking up (or getting shaken out of) the rotation as the season winds down. Using the team’s plus-minus when the Nets “Big 3” shared the floor with those players as a baseline, here’s a list of what I think are the best role players to have in the lineup with those three guys.

Before we look at those five players, here’s a list of (dis)honorable mentions:

C.J. Watson — 120 minutes with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez; -12.4 per 100 possessions: Yuck. Despite some experimentation with the Watson-Williams backcourt, the results don’t lie: the Nets can only hide Watson for so long against good defenders and his erratic play this season doesn’t make him a good fit with the starting five.

MarShon Brooks — 52 minutes with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez; +5.4 per 100 possessions: Yes, Brooks’ plus-minus looks good, but the improvement is almost entirely on the defensive end in the limited minutes. Does anyone really believe that Brooks has helped the team with his defensive ability?

Gerald Wallace — 800 minutes with Deron Williams Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez; +.3 per 100 possessions: Wallace is entrenched in the Nets rotation, which is why I didn’t include him in this analysis. Whether as a standard small forward or a small power forward, he’s not going anywhere.

Let’s take a look at the five other players, in reverse order of effectiveness, starting with the player no one wants to see…

Next: #5


  1. Wow. So how come you can do this Devin and PJ can’t? I’m lost. I always have alot to say but I’m just lost this season 🙁

  2. Nice post. But as you point out the sample sizes here are teeny. Plus/minus has a ton of noise because the players on the other team have just as much impact on it as the Nets players that you are evaluating.
    Now I’m a big Reggie fan and I think he compliments our starters very nicely. But I’d be curious to see him with Bogans at SF. That would improve the shooting just a touch over Wallace, which makes up a bit for Reggies offense. You loose some defense and especially rebounding taking out Wallace, but Reggie ensures that rebounding is taken care of. And Lopez is blocking shots so the rim remains somewhat protected.
    Of course Wallace would probably freak out if he didn’t start. And after nearly a season where he has basically been the Nets only good defender he probably would be right to do so. Egos are a big part of setting lineups. A coach fears “losing” the team, which is an issue if he does something that the players don’t understand or agree.

    1. The Big 3+Reggie+Bogans is the worst Nets 5-man lineup with more than 40 minutes played by a significant margin. -22.8 per 100 possessions.

      1. I cant understand PJ’s subs I agree u shouldn’t sit a guy bcuz he was injured and came back in a lil slump (hump) for a guy that JUST REBOUNDS and hurts everything else. J. Johnson was in a slump for the 1st 2MONTHS and he was gettin 40 min!! to work out of it. but a guy thats been here for some yrs now and avg a double double cant have a bad week or 2?? and why does Watson a PG come in for JJ a shooting guard when Marshon is a shooting guard and is better at it than CJ and his D is very much improved as he’s done more on the D end then on the O by being unselfish.. say what u want but Watson nor bogans has shut down anyone this year so whats the problem?

  3. By starting Reggie Evans, you are also limiting our max point guard. He has one less person to pass to when creating shots for others. It doesn’t matter so much on the second unti since CJ Watson is a score-first point guard. If you look at the Nets’ most impressive wins of the season, you will see Humphries getting significant minutes with the first unit. 2 Celtics wins, 2 knick wins, the Thunder, Clippers, and Nuggets all incldued the Hump.

  4. 104 of those Bogans minutes have been with Gerald Wallace at PF, and the Nets are +19.7 in those minutes. This is my favorite lineup, and one the PJ does wisely use down the stretch against smaller teams. I just want him to go to it earlier, perhaps even start with it against teams like Miami.

    Also of note, Bogans shoots 40.6% from three in wins and 32.5% in losses. Makes sense.

  5. Don’t have the numbers in front of me, but not only does Reggie Evans hurt the starters, but he excels with the second unit (Blatche, Bogans, Watson, and either Brooks or JJ). So by starting the guy, it’s hurting not only our first unit, but second as well. If Carlesimo really really doesn’t want to start Teletovic (at this point I think it’s personal, but just my opinion), and he will never start Wallace at PF against a bigger lineup, then it has to be Humphries. As much as I don’t like the guy, if it was a choice between who to play with the starters, I’m taking Humphries. I think Evans is a better player, especially with the 2nd unit, but an ISO heavy offense cannot have a guy (Evans) who the defense doesn’t have to guard, allowing for double teams.

    FWIW: Bogans and Teletovic are my 2 favorite players outside of the big three.

    1. Thank you, Devin, for bringing sanity back to this issue. Because every morning I wake up, sit in bed, and wonder how, in the year of our Lord 2013, that REGGIE EVANS is STARTING on a playoff contender. Well, you validated through statistics what I’ve witnessed anecdotally.

      So who is the right guy? Bogans should indisputedly be the 3. And the 4? Not Wallace, because of similar offensive ineptitude. There’s no way Hump should be either a starter, or out of the rotation altogether. Mirza is still unproven (a lot of those minutes came against Charlotte). But I’m most intrigued by the Blatche-Lopez combo. Your statistics show it would make up for the rebounds lost by not having Evans. And both are better defensively than they get credit for. Offensively, they would be a dynamic frontcourt, since both are skilled big men who can stretch the floor on pick-and-rolls, catch hard passes inside, and hit wingmen for open threes. Having two 7-footers is bad if your a running team–but that’s not Brooklyn anyway.

  6. Great look at the facts I saw that without writing anything down but just being a fan of the team. And Frances is right everybody sees it except PJ and formally AJ. I have seen with Marshon on the floor he actually plays very good D in limited minutes with rebounds and assists more so than scoring!! Yet they keep the excuse of his D to keep him on the bench most of the game which is mind boggling. If a guy whom PJ says is a scorer like Melo and Durant plays D then what is the problem with a consistent 15 min a game at least?? He was ur starter all last yr!! and WATSON is SOOOO overrated its not even funny. THats why Interim will not be removed and he’s outta here with that whole staff.