Nets Hold Competition at Shooting Guard


Sep 26, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson (7) and center Kevin Garnett (2) and point guard Deron Williams (8) and center Brook Lopez (11) pose for a photo during media day at the Brooklyn Nets Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn’s coach, Lionel Hollins, made somewhat of a revelation about the Nets starting lineup, possibly surprising fans and pundits alike.  With Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez locked in at point guard, power forward, and center, respectively, it was assumed by many that Joe Johnson would join them at shooting guard. Instead, Hollins revealed that the 6’7 swingman would be playing small forward, making the shooting guard spot up for grabs.

This also means that Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets best defensive player, will be coming off the bench, something that creates somewhat of a logjam for minutes if Johnson plays most of his time at the small forward spot.  With Johnson averaging almost 33 minutes per game last season, Hollins will need to play his new small forward at shooting guard if Kirilenko is able to play more than the underwhelming 19 minutes per game he played last season under Jason Kidd.

Yet what could possibly be a detriment for one player is an opening for another.  Hollins also willingly offered who would compete for that shooting guard spot, naming Alan Anderson and new Bosnian transfer, Bojan Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic was thought to only be competing for time at small forward, but Hollins’ decision has given the young swingman an opportunity for significant playing time. After playing for Turkish team, Fenerbahçe Ülker, this past season Bogdanovic signed a 3 year, $10 million offer in the offseason. Like most of the highly-talented European players, Bogdanovic has been playing professionally since he was 16, developing into one of the top players in Europe.

Bojan Bogdanovic

During his first two years with Fenerbahçe he was one of the top perimeter shooters in the Euroleague, shooting over 40% from three with a field goal percentage close to 50%. During the past year, that percentage dropped, but he was much more aggressive with the ball in his hands and became the focal point of his team’s offense. Now with the ability to both isolate at the top of the key and take his defender off the dribble or start the fast break and initiate the offense, he’s become a more complete offensive player.

The problem with Bogdanovic comes at the defensive end. Although he’s a capable defender at small forward, his lack of lateral quickness can be exposed on the perimeter. Against players like Lance Stephenson and Dwyane Wade, the Nets will likely have to compensate for that lack of quickness, but if Bogdanovic puts forth the effort level on the defensive end, his offensive skill-level could vault him into the starting lineup.

Anderson, on the other hand, was looking at minimal time at shooting guard behind Johnson before Hollins’ conversation with the media.  The soon to be 32 year-old Anderson is more of a traditional shooting guard. Despite little play-creating ability, he has turned himself into a solid spot up shooter and tenacious defender.  Yet he wasn’t even guaranteed a return to the Nets this offseason with Paul Pierce possibly returning and Bogdanovic becoming part of the rotation.

Alan Anderson and Evan Turner

A career journeyman, Anderson spent 5 years in Europe, last playing for China before the Raptors gave him a chance at the beginning of the 2012 season.  Although not as offensively talented as Bogdanovic, Anderson has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, shooting 34% from 3 point distance last season.

What separates him from Bogdanovic is his defensive versatility. Able to guard the 1 through 3 positions along with some power forwards, he’s turned himself into a solid defender, unafraid to take on the other team’s best player. His weakness lies in his consistency on the offensive end, and poor shot selection if he’s forced to try to create on his own, something the Nets will have to avoid.

If the Nets believe they have enough offensive firepower in their starting  lineup and stick with the plan of Johnson starting at small forward it will be difficult to not to start Anderson at shooting guard.

Coach Hollins has a reputation for focusing on the defensive end and based on last season, Anderson would arguably be the best defender in the starting lineup. Alternatively, Hollins could decide to build his offense around Brook Lopez and utilize Bogdanovic’s shooting skills as another threat for teams to consider when they choose to double the Nets’ big man. Either way, it should be an intense pre-season battle between the defensive-minded veteran and sharp-shooting rookie.