Head coach Kenny Atkinson and GM Sean Marks took over in 2016. What they inherited was, to put it diplomatically, a mess. The Nets had zero first-round draft picks of their own until 2019, millions of dollars owed to the notorious Deron Williams and a roster in shambles.
Little did Nets faithful know, Atkinson and Marks had a master plan. Brooklyn won a mere 20 games in 2016-17 — good for the worst record in the NBA. But three seasons later, the Nets are now in their best position in nearly two decades to win it all.
Ex-Net Luis Scola said it best, “Once they [the Nets] win, they will get everyone they want.”
At the start of the 2018-19 season, only a handful of basketball fans could recognize Atkinson and Marks by name. But at season’s end, the duo was widely respected by NBA pundits, players and coaches alike.
D’Angelo Russell was all but written off by the NBA — thank you, Magic Johnson. Caris LeVert was just another role player. Spencer Dinwiddie was destined to regress with Russell starting at point guard. Jarrett Allen couldn’t “hang in there” with the NBA’s most prominent stars. And Marks’s free-agent class was headlined by Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier — all considered “minute-eaters” in an otherwise sub-par season in Brooklyn.
But the team defied all expectations.
Resilience in the face adversity characterized the 2018-19 Nets season. LeVert’s devastating injury — and Brooklyn subsequently losing two of their next twelve games — seemed to end all hopes of the Nets sneaking into the playoffs. Instead, LeVert’s injury only brought the team closer together.
On paper, a sixth-place finish in the East and first-round playoff exit aren’t flashy results.
Rather, Brooklyn’s 2018-19 season set the stage for what should be the greatest era of Nets basketball — at least in the Brooklyn era.
In this preview, we will delve into Brooklyn’s roster changes and how they mesh with Coach Atkinson’s system. We also reveal our “can’t miss” Nets games this season and give predictions on what should be an even more thrilling season in the borough of Brooklyn.
Departures and Arrivals
The 2019-20 season will feel different without D’Angelo Russell. Russell’s All-Star campaign silenced his most fierce critics.
Saying farewell to Russell wasn’t easy, but he deserves every penny of his max contract from the Warriors. In just two seasons in Brooklyn, Russell has done arguably more for the Nets’ brand than that of Deron Williams in his four-and-a-half seasons as a Net.
So, D’Angelo, Nets fans will miss you and we wish you the best of luck in Golden State.
Brooklyn’s other notable departures include DeMarre Carroll, who signed a three-year deal, $20 million-dollar deal, with the San Antonio Spurs. Ed Davis signed with the Utah Jazz for two-years and just under $10 million. Allen Crabbe (and two first-round picks) was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Taurean Prince. This moved gave Brooklyn enough cap space for two max free agents — we will delve into this move, and its implications, in more detail later. And fan-favorite, Jared Dudley, signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was another emotional goodbye.
We also say farewell to the likes of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier — all of whom played a major part in Brooklyn’s success last season, even if the box score showed a DNP-CD. Especially RHJ, who was the lone holdover from the Billy King era. Rondae, we will never forget your game-winner in Sacramento.
As for Brooklyn’s new arrivals… well, there are not many words to describe the feelings Nets fans went through on June 30, 2019, at approximately 4 p.m. EST.
Sources: Durant will sign a 4-year, $164M deal with the Nets; Irving will sign 4-years, $141M.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
The signings of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn’t hit many fans until Brooklyn’s Media Day on Sept. 27 — where two of the NBA’s premier players were introduced to Nets faithful.
Watching KD and Kyrie address the media gave chills.
If you were to tell fans in 2016 that the Nets would have both Durant and Irving, they wouldn’t believe you. The only way we thought it would be possible would be if you put on “force trades” in NBA 2K. And even then, we’re not so sure the computer would go for that.
But they are here. It is official.
While Durant is still recovering from his devastating Achilles tear last June, Irving is primed to be Brooklyn’s alpha.
It is unlikely that Durant suits up this season, but crazier things have happened.
In addition to the two highest marquee signings in franchise history, the Nets added fantastic complimentary pieces across the board through free agency, trades and the draft—players who can prove to be significant upgrades.
For reference, this is Brooklyn’s roster from last season. The players in red are no longer with the organization:
D’Angelo Russell (G)
Spencer Dinwiddie (G)
Caris LeVert (G)
Joe Harris (G/F)
Jarrett Allen (C)
DeMarre Carroll (F)
Ed Davis (C)
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F)
Jared Dudley (F)
Allen Crabbe (G/F)
Rodions Kurucs (F)
Treveon Graham (G/F)
Shabazz Napier (G)
Dzanan Musa* (G)
Theo Pinson* (G/F)
Alan Williams* (F/C)
*spent most of 2018-19 in the G-League (Long Island Nets)
Red = no longer a Net
These were the 16 most vital players to Brooklyn’s roster last season. The two players not on the list are Mitch Creek — who appeared in five games for the Nets before signing a ten-day with Minnesota — and Tahjere McCall — who is now a member of the Hawks’ G-League team. Creek returned to play professionally in his home country of Australia after playing on Minnesota’s Summer League team.
Only seven Nets are returning, which is less than half of last season’s roster.
Brooklyn’s team chemistry was unmatched last season. The bench was invested in every game — looking at you, Theo Pinson. The culture, as a whole, is what got them to the playoffs. Thus, examining the Nets’ newest acquisitions and their expected roles are key in predicting the team’s success.
Before we break down each player on the 2019-20 roster, here is the full list:
Kevin Durant (F)
Kyrie Irving (G)
DeAndre Jordan (C)
Caris LeVert (G)
Spencer Dinwiddie (G)
Joe Harris (G/F)
Jarrett Allen (C)
Taurean Prince (F)
Rodions Kurucs (F)
Wilson Chandler (G/F)
Garrett Temple (G/F)
Nicolas Claxton (F/C)
Lance Thomas (F)
David Nwaba (G/F)
Dzanan Musa (G)
Theo Pinson (G/F)
Henry Ellenson (F/C)
Jaylen Hands (G)
Deng Adel (F)
CJ Williams (G)
Blue = acquired via free agency
Red = Rookie
Green = acquired via trade
Shall we begin?
4 years, $164M
2018-19 Stats (GSW): 26 PTS, 5.9 AST, 6.4 REB, 52% FG, 35% 3P, 1.1 BLK, 78 G
Kevin Durant has checked all of the boxes: two NBA titles, two Finals MVP awards, ten All-Star appearances, 4 scoring titles, one MVP award, nine All-NBA honors—the list goes on.
While we likely won’t see KD until the 2020-21 season after his Achilles tear in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Durant will seem to fit into Atkinson’s perimeter-centric offense just fine. KD won’t be asked to take defenders one-on-one for large portions of the game like he was asked in Oklahoma City. Rather, Durant will play a much more similar role to his as a member of the Warriors for the past three seasons. There is no shortage of ball movement in Atkinson’s system, which creates chaos, thus leading to open looks from beyond the arc and open lanes to the basket. Durant — and the team as a whole — will benefit just by the future Hall of Famer’s presence on the court.
Throwback: LeBron wanted NO PARTS of Kevin Durant’s dunk 😤
— Optimistic Warriors Fan (@GoIdenState) September 25, 2018
As Durant recovers, another NBA Champ and All-Star will take the reigns as Brooklyn’s go-to guy.
For a more in-depth sense of Durant’s impact, see Logan’s article from the summer.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: Missed Season (Achilles Tear)
4 years, $136M
2018-19 Stats (BOS): 24 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB, 48.7% FG, 40% 3PT, 1.5 STL, 67 G
A lot could be said—and is said—of Kyrie Irving.
After being selected by Cleveland first-overall in 2011, Irving exceeded his hype.
The six-time All-Star and ROY played on a Cavs team with little to no prospects of winning until the King returned home following the 2013-14 season. LeBron James, Irving and Kevin Love formed a “Big Three” that made the finals each year of LeBron’s tenure.
In a classic series against the Warriors, Kyrie Irving iced Game 7 of the 2015-16 NBA Finals, giving the Cavaliers their first and only NBA Championship. Irving was a pivotal piece to Cleveland’s Championship team, but after losing the Finals to the new-and-improved Warriors a year later, Irving demanded a trade.
Kyrie Irving’s Game 7 dagger is something you dream about hitting as a kid pic.twitter.com/AUslu7rT0Z
— SLAM Rewind (@SLAMRewind) June 19, 2019
Irving’s departure stemmed from a desire to be the alpha. But he and Boston never really meshed.
Irving addressed his issues as a Celtic at Nets Media Day.
After the death of his grandfather in late October, Irving struggled to focus on the game. He stated, “Basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me.” (Courtesy of YES Network).
Irving is eager to prove that his impact on the court is a special as it is in the locker, as he now steps into a major leadership role on an otherwise young roster.
Irving will likely be Brooklyn’s best offensive player this season; he will lead Atkinson’s offense, and his much-improved defense is an upgrade over what Russell offered.
If you want a more in-depth look at Kyrie’s potential impact this season, check out this article following his signing this summer.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 26 PPG, 6.5 AST, 5 REB, 45% FG, 37% 3PT, 1.3 STL, 75 G
4 years, $40M
2018-19 Stats (DAL/NYK): 11 PTS, 2.3 AST, 13 REB, 64% FG, 1.1 BLK, 69 G
No player in the history of the NBA has a better career field goal percentage than DeAndre Jordan — 67 percent.
— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) March 10, 2018
Dunks like these help raise that percentage.
Jordan signing with Brooklyn was at the request of Durant and Irving — two of his closest friends. We won’t know for sure whether Marks would have made the move to get the ex-LOB City member if Durant and Irving signed elsewhere. Regardless, Jordan is quite possibly the best pure rebounder in the NBA — likely second to Andre Drummond of Detroit.
Jordan’s only setback has been his free throw shooting. But, to the shock of the NBA, Jordan shot 70 percent from the line last season — a full 24 percent (!) better than his career average.
To put it into perspective, LeBron James shot 66.5 percent from the stripe last season.
It has not been made clear whether Jordan will start over Jarrett Allen, but a likely guess is that Allen — who started in every game he played last season — will start once again. Though, it’s unclear how long that will last.
Look for Jordan to be everything Ed Davis was and more this season, both on and off the court.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 8.5 PPG, 1.5 AST, 11.5 REB, 66% FG, 1.7 BLK, 73 G
3 years, $52M
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 13.7 PTS, 4 AST, 3.8 REB, 42% FG, 31% 3PT, 1.1 STL, 40 G
Caris LeVert burst onto the scene in the early portion of the 2018-19 season.
The third-year pro was averaging just under 20 points per game, playing staunch defense and coming through in the clutch (two game-winners).
But a brutal foot injury in November was thought to end the rising star’s season—but it didn’t. LeVert rejoined Brooklyn for the team’s late-season playoff push.
But it wasn’t until Sixers series did we see LeVert shake off the rust entirely.
In five games against Philly, LeVert averaged 21 points and shot 46 percent from deep. His effective field goal percentage was an impressive 57.5 percent over those five games.
His playoff performance likely helped Marks’s decision in offering a three-year deal to his first draft pick as Brooklyn’s GM.
LeVert is likely to start the majority of games this season, especially with Durant out. LeVert should function as Brooklyn shooting guard alongside Irving in the starting five.
The presence of Irving should make it easier for LeVert to find open looks from beyond the arc and opens lanes to the rim.
Look for a huge step forward for LeVert this season. And if the stars align, an All-Star berth is not out of the question.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 15.5 PPG, 4 AST, 4.5 REB, 45% FG, 38% 3PT, 1.5 STL, 72 G
3 years, $34M
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 16.8 PTS, 4.6 AST, 2.4 REB, 44% FG, 33% 3PT, 0.6 STL, 68 G
Cryptocurrency enthusiast Spencer Dinwiddie proved himself to the NBA in the 2018-19 season. Brooklyn’s sixth man led one of the most productive bench units in the NBA, a leading cause of the Nets’ playoff berth.
Dinwiddie showed that he can both pick where the starters left off without missing a beat and ignite the offense and team as a whole when the starters just weren’t getting the job done.
Every team in the NBA needs a Spencer Dinwiddie, but not every team has one.
After Dinwiddie went down with a thumb injury in February, the Nets’ bench struggled for the month he missed.
It’s hard to bet against Lou Williams winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, but another full season of Spencer Dinwiddie will surely give him a fighting chance.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 18.5 PTS, 4 AST, 3.5 REB, 44.5% FG, 35% 3PT, 0.8 STL, 77 G
2 years, $16M (entering year two)
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 13.7 PTS, 2.4 AST, 3.8 REB, 50% FG, 47.4 3PT, 0.5 STL, 76 G
Joe Harris and his beard earned no shortage of nicknames last season—the caveman, lumber Joe and beef jerky Joe, just to name a few.
Harris’s 2018-19 season was highlighted by his victory over MVP Steph Curry in the annual 3-Point Contest.
Harris led the NBA in three-point FG percentage last season. He also expanded his game on both ends of the ball, adding versatility on the defensive end by being able to defend both guards and small forwards. On the offensive end, Harris got to the basket with a collection of nifty moves.
Harris is likely to start every game he plays this season, just as he did last season. And with the addition of Irving and Taurean Prince (who we’ll focus on later), Harris should have even more looks at the basket.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 14.5 PTS, 3 AST, 3.5 REB, 47% FG, 44% 3PT, 0.7 STL, 80 G
RFA in 2020
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 10.9 PTS, 1.4 AST, 8.4 REB, 59% FG, 0.5 STL, 1.5 BLK, 80 G
Jarrett Allen took a gigantic leap forward in his sophomore season.
Allen started each of the 80 games he played in last season, earning himself a spot in the Rising Stars Challenge.
But in Brooklyn’s first game of the 2018-19 season, the Fro made a name for himself by emphatically rejecting Blake Griffin’s dunk attempt. He went on to add LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden to his list.
Despite his struggles against Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert and other established big men in the NBA, Allen showed signs of improvement as the season progressed.
Brian Lewis reported that Allen has continued to put on muscle since season’s end, which helped in his dominance in the Summer League — where he was named to the league’s first-team. It may seem odd that Allen, who is entering his third season in the NBA, played in the Summer League, but, if anything, it shows Allen’s determination to improve and his “basketball first” mindset.
Allen will no doubt be helped by the signing of DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is the exact type of big man that Allen struggled against in his first two professional seasons. Allen will be able to learn a thing or two from Jordan, who averages over 10 rebounds per game through his 11 seasons.
Atkinson has yet to confirm who will start at center, or whether there will even be a set starter. But it is likely that Allen will have the edge over Jordan for the reason of not wanting to stunt his development.
With Irving at the point, Allen will have one the best ball handler’s in the league feeding him in the post and off the pick-and-roll. Allen is likely to have his best offensive season yet, which will only bolster his presence on the defensive end.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 13 PTS, 2.5 AST, 9.6 REB, 62% FG, 0.6 STL, 1.75 BLK, 75 G
RFA in 2020
2018-19 Stats (ATL): 13.5 PTS, 2.1 AST, 3.6 REB, 44% FG, 39% 3PT, 1.0 STL, 55 G
In a trade that allowed the Nets room for two max contracts, Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick were sent to Brooklyn for Allen Crabbe and two first-rounders. The Nets gave up the No. 17 overall pick of the 2018 draft and a top-14 protected first-rounder in 2020.
This move may turn out to be one of Brooklyn’s best of the off-season, if it has not already.
Prince is lights out from beyond the arc, averaging over two three-pointers made per game each of the last two seasons. In addition to Prince’s ability to score from almost anywhere on the court, the 6-foot, 8-inch forward is a versatile defender — both in the post and on the perimeter.
TAUREAN. PRINCE. pic.twitter.com/IulnTpGffm
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 11, 2019
Prince played in and started all 82 of Atlanta’s games in his 2017-18 campaign, but injuries plagued him last season. Prince is likely to start for the Nets at the four this season, where he will draw tough defensive matchups.
In just over a month from now, we won’t be surprised to see Taurean Prince becoming a fan-favorite in Brooklyn.
The fourth-year pro is likely to have his best season yet on the revamped Brooklyn Nets.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 15 PTS, 2.5 AST, 5 REB, 46% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 1.2 STL, 70 G
UFA in 2022, Club Option in 2021
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 8.5 PTS, 0.8 AST, 3.9 REB, 45% FG, 31.5% 3PT, 0.7 STL, 63 G
Rodions Kurucs was one of Brooklyn’s biggest surprises in the 2018-19 season.
The second-rounder started 46 games and gave Brooklyn a burst of energy whenever he stepped on the court. Kurucs was rewarded for his efforts by being named to Rising Stars Challenge.
After a strong performance in the Summer League, Kurucs looked primed to take another step forward in 2019-20, but he has run into trouble off the court.
On Aug. 27, Kurucs surrendered himself to authorities in Brooklyn for an alleged act of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend in late June 2019. Kurucs will return to court on Oct. 21, but has been an active participant in practice for the Nets.
Assumably, Kurucs’s future with Brooklyn — and possible suspension by the NBA — will be determined in the next month.
If Kurucs plays a full season, 21-year-old Kurucs is likely to take a big step forward from his promising rookie season.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 10 PTS, 1 AST, 3.5 REB, 48% FG, 33% 3PT, 1.1 STL, 78 G
1 year, $2.5M
2018-19 Stats (PHI/LAC): 6 PTS, 1.6 AST, 4.2 REB, 41.8% FG, 37.3% 3PT, 0.5 STL, 51 G
Wilson Chandler, an 11-year-vet, is an above-average defender and consistent threat from deep. Chandler averages over one three-pointer made per game over his career, and his 6-foot, 9-inch frame gives him the ability to defend from the low-post and wing. Comparable to the Dudley signing of last season, Marks made yet another savvy move by acquiring Chandler.
Still, Nets fans won’t see Chandler for the first 25 games of the season, as the veteran got suspended for PED use. In his stead, the likes of Prince, Kurucs (maybe) and Nic Claxton can capitalize on the 13-18 minutes Chandler would be seeing each game — if that many at all.
Upon his return, Chandler will likely come off the bench with the second unit. That is, unless Claxton or someone else steps up and takes Chandler’s spot in the rotation.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 4.5 PTS, 1.2 AST, 3.4 REB, 45% FG, 39.5% 3PT, 0.3 STL, 43 G
1 year, $4.7M
2018-19 Stats (MEM/LAC): 7.8 PTS, 1.4 AST, 2.9 REB, 42.2% FG, 34.1% 3PT, 1 STL, 75 G
Garrett Temple, like Chandler, is an established NBA player.
Entering his 10th season in the league, Temple is a lockdown perimeter defender who has greatly improved his offensive game since entering the NBA in 2009.
Since 2015-16, Temple averaged over seven points per game. His previous career-high was a paltry 5.1. The three-pointer revitalized Temple’s offensive game — as he has averaged over one make per game since his breakout season.
Through 49 games with the Grizzlies last season, Temple averaged over nine points per game, but was dealt to the Clippers at the trade deadline. Temple never got it going in LA and found himself playing ten fewer minutes than he did in Memphis.
In Brooklyn, Temple will be a key piece off the bench — likely playing alongside Dinwiddie in the backcourt.
Still, Temple will have to earn every minute he plays, as Brooklyn has a great deal of depth at the combo-guard position (Pinson, Musa, Nwaba).
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 7.5 PTS, 1.1 AST, 2.4 REB, 44% FG, 37% 3PT, 0.7 STL, 74 G
31st Overall Pick, 2019 Draft
2018-19 NCAA Stats (UGA): 13 PTS, 1.8 AST, 8.6 REB, 46% FG, 28% 3PT, 2.5 BLK, 32 G
Nic Claxton, the first pick of the second round in the 2019 draft, will no doubt have the opportunity to showcase his versatility with Brooklyn.
Claxton has the potential to be everything the Nets lacked at the four-spot last season — a three-and-D floor-spacer, who can get up and down the court with ease.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 19, 2018
Claxton stands an inch below 7 feet tall, helping him become an elite rim protector at the University of Georgia. It’s unclear where Claxton stands in terms of playing time, as it seems unlikely that he will take minutes away from Jordan and Allen.
Still, Claxton’s versatility can earn him some minutes on the wing, especially if he proves an ability to consistently make threes at the NBA level.
Claxton is slated to start the season in Long Island, where he will focus on further developing his three-pointer. Claxton can likely take a similar role to that of Musa from last season — that is, going up-and-down from Long Island, never really being a part of Brooklyn’s rotation. But his “Musa-esque” likely role won’t last for long. Claxton is too athletic and versatile to keep off the roster, and his ability to knock down a three-pointer on one end and then send a shot into the rafters on the other is a valuable trait that few NBA players possess.
Nets fans will see if Claxton impresses Atkinson and co. as the Nets prepare for the season.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 6.5 PTS, 0.5 AST, 5.0 REB, 50% FG, 25% 3PT, 1.5 BLK, 39 G
1 year, $2.3M
2018-19 Stats (NYK): 4.5 PTS, 0.6 AST, 2.5 REB, 39.6% FG, 27.8% 3PT, 0.4 STL, 46 G
For the last 4.5 seasons, Lance Thomas has been a solid rotation piece of a struggling Knicks franchise.
Brooklyn signed the eight-year vet on Sept. 27, as the team needs depth at the forward position. Before last season, Thomas shot over 40 percent from deep each of the previous three seasons. In addition to his ability to knock down an open three, Thomas plays slightly above-average defense.
Thomas’s minutes will depend on the Kurucs situation and his practice and preseason performance.
Thomas can likely edge out Nic Claxton and fellow ex-Knick Henry Ellenson for minutes at the four. Although, Thomas’s minutes will fluctuate after Chandler returns from his suspension.
All in all, Marks made a solid move by signing a respected veteran who will help the Nets both on and off the court.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 4.2 PTS, 0.7 AST, 2.9 REB, 38% FG, 37.5% 3PT, 0.3 STL, 61 G
2 years, $3.5M (1-year guaranteed)
2018-19 Stats (CLE): 6.5 PTS, 1.1 AST, 3.2 REB, 48.1% FG, 32% 3PT, 0.7 STL, 51 G
When first hearing about David Nwaba’s signing, Nets fans may have remembered how much he killed Brooklyn in one particular game last season. It turns out that game was Nwaba’s career-high (22 points).
Players like David Nwaba have always plague the Nets.
Anyway, Nwaba’s defense was always two steps ahead of his offense. The hope is that he finds it in Brooklyn, as Nwaba enters his fourth season in the NBA.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Nwaba will have to fight for playing time with fellow fringe-rotation players in Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson.
Although, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Nwaba sees consistent minutes.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 4.4 PTS, 0.8 AST, 2.7 REB, 49% FG, 31% 3PT, 0.6 STL, 44 G
RFA in 2021
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 2.1 PTS, 0.2 AST, 0.6 REB, 40.9% FG, 10% 3PT, 9 G
Brooklyn drafted Dzanan Musa with the No. 29 pick in the 2018 draft. Musa never saw any significant minutes in the regular season, but excelled with the Long Island Nets.
The thought behind keeping Musa in Long Island was that the 20-year-old would develop with actual playing time as opposed to riding the bench.
Musa, who stands at 6-foot, 9-inches, offers Brooklyn versatility at the guard spot. If he puts together a solid month of practice, Musa could find himself in Atkinson’s rotation. But he can also easily find himself back in Long Island if he’s outplayed by Temple, Pinson or Nwaba.
Musa is likely to see regular minutes in Brooklyn this season, playing an important role on Brooklyn’s bench that will increase as the season progresses. Nets fans look forward to seeing the rapport between Dinwiddie and Musa — two “over-sized” guards intimidating opposing bench units.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 7.5 PTS, 2 AST, 3.2 REB, 44% FG, 36.5% 3PT, 0.7 STL, 60 G
2018-19 Stats (BKN): 4.5 PTS, 1.2 AST, 2 REB, 34.2% FG, 26.1% 3PT, 0.3 STL, 18 G
Theo Pinson took the role of Brooklyn’s “hype-man” last season. He was always first off the bench to celebrate with his teammates and showed no lack of energy through both good times and bad.
Pinson had brief moments to shine last season, especially following Dinwiddie’s injury, but he mostly starred as a member of the Long Island Nets.
Marks took a chance on the undrafted Pinson last season, one that was well worth it. The Nets inked Pinson to a new deal this offseason with the hopes that he would vie for a spot on Brooklyn’s bench.
Barring an unforeseen dramatic increase in his skills, Pinson is likely to be left out of Brooklyn’s rotation. However, Pinson is an NBA-caliber player who can find himself on an NBA roster and see consistent minutes this season. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if Marks keeps him as a reserve who plays either in garbage time or receives a DNP-CD.
PROJ 2019-20 Stats: 5.5 PTS, 1.8 AST, 2.6 REB, 40% FG, 32% 3PT, 0.5 STL, 44 G
Outside Roster Shots
Ellenson has a chance to play for the Nets this season. He has range, but his lack of athleticism will hold him back.
Hands — drafted 56th overall by Brooklyn in June — is too raw for the NBA. He signed with the LI Nets on Oct. 1 and will spend much, if not all of 2019-20 with them.
Adel signed an Exhibit 10 Deal (camp invite) with Brooklyn, but it would be a shock if he made the roster. As a rookie, Adel played in 19 games for Cleveland last season.
The 29-year-old guard has bounced around the G-League and various international leagues since going undrafted in 2012. Williams finally reached the NBA in the 2017-18 season with the Clippers, and played sparingly for the Timberwolves last season. It’s unlikely Williams makes the Brooklyn roster, but he could Williams sign with Long Island, or even a two-way with Brooklyn after his inevitable release.
As we’ve stated earlier, we believe that Allen will have the starting spot for the first few weeks of the season, at least. If Allen gets continuously bullied in the paint, Atkinson will swap Jordan for Allen in the starting five. The other four are essentially locks.
Bench Rotation (in order of talent)
Dinwiddie, Jordan, and Kurucs will all be in the rotation without any debate. The remaining two spots are up for grabs. Temple and Musa will likely be the finalists in the battle for the second guard spot off the bench. At this point, Temple holds the edge, but everything can change. As for the stretch four, Claxton will have every chance to prove himself worthy of playing time, but Lance Thomas will likely win the rotation spot. But, by season’s end, Claxton will be a fixture of Brooklyn’s bench.
As for Wilson Chandler, he can play at either the three or four, so presumably, either Thomas or Claxton will lose minutes to the veteran.
Here are twelve Nets games that you will want to see. But, of course, we recommend all 82 (plus the postseason).
- vs Minnesota, Wed, Oct. 23: Kyrie Irving ushers in the new era in Brooklyn’s season and home opener.
- vs New York, Fri, Oct. 25: The real home opener. Time for Brooklyn to cement themselves as New York’s best basketball team.
- @ New York, Sun, Nov. 24: Sorry, James Dolan. You did not get Kyrie, KD or Zion, but hey, at least you have depth at the four.
- @ Boston, Wed, Nov. 27: Kyrie returns to Boston.
- vs Philadelphia, Sun, Dec. 15: A rematch of 2018 playoffs’ first-round.
- @ Philadelphia, Wed, Jan. 15: There is little question as to who Brooklyn’s biggest rival is — at least their biggest relevant rival (sorry, Knicks). A win in Philly will give the Nets momentum amid the annual playoff seeding frenzy.
- vs Milwaukee, Sat, Jan. 18: The Nets and Bucks may just match-up in the second round of the playoffs this season. In the first of three regular-season meetings, Brooklyn will hope to defeat one of the East’s premier teams.
- vs LA Lakers, Thu, Jan. 23: Jarrett Allen remembers the last time the King set foot in Brooklyn. Also, Jared Dudley comes home.
- vs Golden State, Wed, Feb. 5: D’Angelo Russell returns to Brooklyn.
- Brooklyn’s toughest stretch of the season always comes when the wins seem to matter most: March. The re-vamped Western Conference will not pity the Nets, especially as a three-game stretch where Brooklyn will face three of the league’s toughest teams to begin their four-game road-trip. Thank the basketball gods that the annual trip isn’t the usual seven or eight games.
- @ LAL, Tue, March 10: If one had to place a bet, this would be the one game Brooklyn wins given AD’s injury history and LeBron’s propensity to implode his very own team. And Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo likely will not make it a full season without conflict.
- @ Golden State, Thu, March 12: Curry, Russell, and Klay (who should be healthy) is no easy task. Not to mention, Curry, Kerr, and Golden State faithful won’t be all too pleased with the franchise Durant chose over them. This will especially be the case if the Warriors struggle to compete in the stacked Western Conference.
- @ LAC, Fri, March 13: Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will surely take advantage of a winded (and likely still jet-lagged) Nets team in the second half of a back-to-back. Also, Nets fans have not forgotten Lou Williams’s game-winner last season.
Awards and Results
End Result: Eliminated by Philadelphia (4-3) in the East’s Second Round
Nets’ MVP: Kyrie Irving
Nets’ MIP: Taurean Prince
All-Stars: Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert
All-NBA 1st Team: Kyrie Irving (would be the first Net since Jason Kidd in 2003-04 to earn a spot on the team)
Opponent PPG: 111.1
Just for fun…
Technical Fouls: DeAndre Jordan (10)
Ejections: DeAndre Jordan (2) and Kyrie Irving (2)
Game-Winners: Kyrie Irving (2)
Five Absurdly Predictions: Pascal Siakam will have a 40-point game against Brooklyn; Jarrett Allen will have a highlight block on both Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett; Wilson Chandler will be thrown out of a Nets-Sixers game this season (he’s eligible for all four); D’Angelo Russell will put on a historic performance in Brooklyn (40+ points and a win); and Kyrie will score 45+ in his first game back in Boston.
- Brooklyn (finished in 6th in 2018-19)
- LA Clippers
- Golden State
- LA Lakers
- New Orleans
MVP: Steph Curry
ROY: Zion Williamson
DPOY: Rudy Gobert
Most Improved: Lonzo Ball
Comeback Player: Kristaps Porzingis
Sixth Man: Lou Williams
Coach of the Year: Kenny Atkinson (he deserved the award last season)
Executive of the Year: Sean Marks (he also deserved the award last season)
NBA Finals: Philadelphia vs Houston (Philadelphia wins in seven games by a final score of 118-107)
Finals MVP: Ben Simmons
The Nets enter the 2019-20 season with far higher expectations than anyone would have thought possible a year ago. But the best is yet to come for Brooklyn, who still searches for its first NBA Championship — though they do have two ABA championships, to their credit. This season is yet another stepping stone for the Nets to reach that goal.
With Durant likely sidelined the entire season, it will be Irving’s show to run. Under the tutelage of Irving and the coaching staff, the entire Nets team will stand on the precipice of immortality. And when Durant returns, the Brooklyn Nets may be near unstoppable.
A year ago, the Brooklyn Nets weren’t on anyone’s radar — and that wasn’t such a bad thing.