14th man: Filling out the roster

Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

The Brooklyn Nets have had a busy offseason -- re-signing Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and Keith Bogans, trading for Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans, signing Mirza Teletovic, C.J. Watson, Jerry Stackhouse, and Tornike "Toko Loco" Shengelia (an expected Eurostash). Now, with thirteen men signed to the official roster, they've got just a little more tweaking left. But who should be that 14th man?

I asked the NAS crew for their thoughts. Here are theirs (and mine) below:

Mark Ginocchio: I look at the Nets’ current front court depth chart, and despite Devin’s well-argued post about the Brooklyn Nets not needing a backup center, I just feel incredibly uneasy about this team having its starting PF in Kris Humphries, a guy with zero offensive game in Reggie Evans, and unproven European rookie in Mizra Teletovic as the long-term fill-ins if Brook Lopez misses time with an injury this season (and given that he injured the same foot twice last year, is it that farfetched?). If the Nets are going to fill a 14th slot on the roster, it has to be a back-up big.

Shelden Williams was an admirable, if not completely mediocre fill-in for Brook Lopez last year. He started in nearly half the team’s games at C last year (32). My preference for him is based primarily on the fact that he’s a known-quantity, is familiar with how Avery Johnson and the Nets run their ship, and would be hypothetically be more receptive to a vets minimum contract than any of the other more “established” veterans or flashier names left on the market. He’s certainly not the best player out there, but he’s the best fit and the most pragmatic choice.
 
 
Sandy Dover: Honestly, I’m surprised. I’m surprised that a multiple medal-winning Olympian, savvy Euroleague star, and serviceable NBA veteran like Carlos Delfino is available. The Argentinean is noted worldwide for his talent as a scoring/defending swingman with the ability to play on and off the ball. Who doesn’t want or need that? I’ll tell you should want him and who does need him – the Brooklyn Nets.

Today, the best wings on the team are Joe Johnson and MarShon Brooks, the former the new starting All-Star shooting guard and the latter the All-Rookie performer in 2011-2012. For the Nets, Delfino works because of his ability to spread the floor and willingly defend. He's a starting-caliber player who would be excellent off the bench. In addition, it’s possible that Brooks could be dealt away in a future deal; having Delfino would secure the wing position if such a transaction took place. In all scenarios present, Delfino is the way to go.
 
 
Justin DeFeo: I generally feel that for the players filling out your roster, they should be able to play multiple positions and be good defenders.

This is true with both Kenyon Martin and Tracy McGrady. Martin can play both front court positions and defensively his skill set is a good compliment to Brook Lopez or Mirza Teletovic. Offensively, Martin doesn't require the ball to be effective which on a team that is as loaded on offense as the Nets are already, is a good thing. McGrady on offense is gifted enough to plug in pretty much anywhere one through four. While his skills have diminished considerably, he's still able to be used in a number of different ways including as a creator and as a finisher. He loses some of his versatility when you flip to the defensive side of the ball, but McGrady could still be serviceable guarding bigger wings and small fours.

On a mostly veteran team like the Brooklyn Nets, I don't worry much about having such established players like Martin and McGrady being on the team yet playing few minutes. In fact, I feel like both have a great opportunity to fill the role of mentor/leader and given the stage of their career, may welcome that.
 
 
Chris Hooker: There are two cases to make Kenyon Martin the 14th player on the roster.

First off, there is the nostalgia. The Nets, of course, drafted K-Mart #1 overall back in the 2000 NBA Draft and he went on to play four seasons in New Jersey. Bringing back a member of one of the Nets’ key guys in the Finals years, would be a pretty cool way to open up Brooklyn and Martin is the only guy left who could fill that void.

But, Kenyon Martin also works in a completely un-nostalgic basketball way too. He may be far from the slam-dunking machine he used to be, but he brings a defensive toughness that the newly minted Brooklyn Nets could really use, especially in the post. Right now, at the four and five position, the Nets have no one who is a proven defender. Martin would immediately be the toughest guy on that end of the court of all the Nets’ bigs. The Clips went with Martin over Griffin in some crucial playoff minutes because of his defense.

I could see Martin fitting in well in Brooklyn and I can imagine a return to the team that drafted him is intriguing. Hopefully, it intrigues Billy King.
 
 
Devin Kharpertian: Tracy McGrady is far from perfect. He's a shell of his former shell of himself. He hasn't played a meaningful game in years. He's falled off to the point where sometimes it's almost sad to watch him flail in an attempt to be Tracy McGrady. But the Brooklyn Nets need another flexible wing player far more than they need another center, and if McGrady can even provide a modicum of his once-phenomenal impact, he'd be a welcome fit off the bench in Brooklyn.

Even in his currently limited capacity, McGrady can still perform serviceably as a backup -- he posted a rebound rate above the league average last season and a respectable assist percentage that's leveled out around 20% in the past three years. He can still shoot -- he's hit three-pointers at a 37% clip in the past two seasons. The chance for magic is small -- I can't stress how much this isn't the McGrady of old -- but without much responsibility and under some newly bright lights in Brooklyn, anything is possible.