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…