Nets Depth Chart: Should Brooklyn Be Concerned?


The Nets experienced another roster turnover this summer, something Nets’ fans have become accustomed to.  At most, only 7 of the 15 players that ended the season on the roster will be returning and the entire projected second unit has been revamped.  With Deron Williams now in Dallas following his buyout, last season’s backup Jarrett Jack will join the starting unit.  Although the rest of the starting lineup returns, there are huge question marks regarding the composition of the bench and its depth.

After signing former Knicks’ castoff Shane Larkin to replace Williams, they followed that up with signing Andrea Bargnani to replace the recently traded Mason Plumlee.  In terms of talent and production, both players are certainly downgrades from the players they replaced.  Despite his quickness and ability to get into the paint, he struggled finishing, choosing to settle for floaters and not showing much touch when doing so.  He struggles on defense due to his size and in a league of big point guards, it’s going to be interesting to see how Coach Lionel Hollins masks his defensive deficiencies.

Bargnani has those same defensive issues, but not due to size, rather he’s just ineffective.  He lacks the strength to bang down low with centers and is somewhat foul prone.  He also struggles to defend the perimeter as his lateral quickness is average at best.  His rebounding issues are well-known and it’ll Coach Hollins may need to play him as a stretch center like the Utah Jazz did with Mehmet Okur during the end of his career, although Okur was an elite shooter from deep range during four of his seven years with Utah.

Apr 1, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Andrea Bargnani (77) passes the ball around Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Next to Larkin in the backcourt will be journeyman Wayne Ellington. Although Ellington is a strong shooter from beyond the arc and he could shoot over 40 percent this season from three, his limitations far exceed his talent.  With little athleticism and an ability to create his own offense, his niche as a catch and shoot guard is what is keeping him in the league.  He shot 43.9 percent from inside the arc with the Lakers last season and although he looked better on defense than previous seasons he still had trouble defending the post.

The Nets backup forward positions are occupied by two complete uncertainties, one whom is a rookie and another who is on his fifth team in four years.  After trading up to nab Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the 2015 Draft, the Nets knew they were drafting a very good defensive player with arguably the rawest offensive game of any player selected in the first round.  His mechanics need a complete retool and the Brooklyn coaching staff will have to find a way to utilize his immense defensive skills and limit his offensive touches to touches around the basket.  If he focuses on defense and rebounding while spending his rookie season working with shooting coaches to fix his shot, that’s likely the best goal the Nets could hope to reach.

At the backup power forward position, the Nets signed former Trail Blazer Thomas Robinson.  Robinson has been somewhat of an enigma since he was drafted by the Rockets in 2012.  His offensive skill set, like Hollis-Jefferson’s is extremely limited.  Despite those limitations, however, he’s not afraid contested shots and shoot from the mid-range.  For a player without a consistent jump shot, that’s not the best path to future success.  His way to become a productive player for Brooklyn will be on the glass as he proved during his time with the 76ers that he could be an above average rebounder, averaging 7.7 rebounds per game in only 18.5 minutes.  If he can focus more on scoring in the low post and converting off of his own offensive boards, then he’ll likely end up being the Nets’ most productive player on their bench.

Behind the second unit, Brooklyn has little to no NBA experience.  With the undrafted Ryan Boatright, second-year guard Markel Brown, third-year swingman Sergey Karasev, first-round pick Chris McCullough, and D-League standout Willie Reed likely rounding out the rest of the roster, the Nets have very little veteran leadership on the payroll for next season.

Nets’ Point Guard and Connecticut Alumni Ryan Boatright. Mandatory Credit: Eric Gay / AP Photo

The key for the Nets will be generating offense on a second unit devoid of players who can create their own shot.  Larkin, at his absolute best, could provide some scoring punch in the half-court, but the other four aforementioned players lack that capability.  Brooklyn’s focus next year will have to be on player development.  If Brown or Boatright eventually earn the opportunity to play significant minutes that would certainly give the Nets a boon in terms of playmakers in their rotation.

For now, however, the coaching staff will have to work with an imperfect roster.  If they choose to instead give the starters more minutes, it could have a detrimental effect by season’s end.  With Joe Johnson past his prime and Brook Lopez’s history of foot problems, Brooklyn should at least be mindful of their playing time. If they aren’t, the Nets’ season could be in shambles no matter how their bench plays.