The Brooklyn Nets are undefeated in 2019 — this is an absolute fact. The Nets, who were 8-18 a month ago, have been one of the hottest teams in basketball over the last 30 days — this is also a fact. As of today, Brooklyn sits in 7th place for the postseason race — surprise! It’s hard to believe the state of the Nets in 2019 is so… overwhelming positive, be here we all are. But expectations can always be tempered and the Nets’ schedule will only heat up from this point forward.
First up: The rival Boston Celtics on the road without Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Yeesh. Still, there’s an entire week of winning basketball to recap here before we get to all that. Here’s TBG Stock Watch 4, starring D’Angelo Russell.
Last week’s scores:
1/2: Nets 126, Pelicans 121
1/4: Nets 109, Grizzlies 100
1/7: Nets 117, Bulls 100
1. D’Angelo Russell
This was as complete a week as Russell has ever had. He averaged 24.3 points per game on 46.4 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from deep. Russell put up 9.3 assists per game to just 2.3 turnovers and was a ridiculous plus-17 in his time on the court.
More than anything, Russell seemed to be the leader that the Nets were hoping for when they acquired him in June 2017. After having frequent moments over the last two years of watching from the bench at the end of games, Russell was on the court in the critical fourth quarter minutes for the Nets close games.
Also important: Russell has been rocking a headband over this last week. Unclear yet if it’s solely responsible for this performance, but it might be too risky to take it off at this point. If he keeps playing this well, his stay in Brooklyn will be all but sealed.
2. DeMarre Carroll
Carroll has tried to fit into a few different roles with the Nets since he’s been here. Sometimes, he fits in as a small forward when he shares the court with Hollis-Jefferson. Other times, he slides into his role as a bit of an undersized stretch-forward. The Nets’ success with those lineups depends heavily on Carroll’s consistency from deep.
Well, Carroll was scorching this week. He averaged 19.7 points on the week, knocking down 52.4 percent of his three-pointers on seven attempts a game. He flashed his confidence by firing up his three-pointers very quickly as well, sometimes with defenders closing out quickly.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 5, 2019
Carroll’s ability to knock down those shots will stretch the defense and create driving lanes for him against defenders that overcommit to stopping him. This version of Carroll makes the Nets’ offense legitimately dangerous and a return to last year’s form will keep their outside shot at the postseason buzzing.
3. Shabazz Napier
Last week, Napier got into this column for playing well during some garbage time minutes.
Well, if this week was any indication, Napier is here to stay. He averaged nearly 25 minutes per game over this week’s stretch and put up 13.3 points and 3.7 assists — similar numbers to what the Nets’ regular backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, put up.
What was also interesting to watch: The Nets flirted with a three-point-guard lineup, playing Napier, Dinwiddie and Russell at the same for all three games this week. They only averaged 6.4 minutes together but were a modest plus-5. It’ll be interesting to see if the Nets keep that up — but as Russell joked: “New year, new Kenny” so it may just be here to stay.
1. Jarrett Allen
Yes, the blocks on Anthony Davis were awesome and got the Fro more national media coverage — plus, the blocks were foretold in last week’s column! And Allen’s overall numbers — 13.7 points, 9.7 boards and 2 blocks — were good this week.
But when we’re splitting hairs here for a good Nets week, Allen did struggle with a team-worst minus-4.7 during his time on the court. He was a putrid -22 in the win over New Orleans. And for as great as Anthony Davis is, he’s not a 34-point/26-rebound every-single-night kind of guy. Ed Davis was a +26 and had more rebounds in nearly half the minutes as Allen in that game.
Allen’s shot blocking has been unbelievably reliable. But he’s gotten pushed around by some of the better big men in the league this year, and as the only real option as the starting center, he needs to be more consistent on that front.
This week’s games
1/7 @ Boston Celtics
1/9 vs. Atlanta Hawks
1/11 @ Toronto Raptors
Hard to have many stock downs when the Nets have such a strong week — don’t forget, it’s still undefeated season, baby! Let us know on Twitter who you think the Nets risers and fallers have been! Predictions for another tough week in Nets-land? Hit us up!