Brooklyn Nets: How Versatility Will Land The Nets in The Playoffs

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Jeremy Lin
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Jeremy Lin /
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 28: Jeremy Lin
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 28: Jeremy Lin /

Over the last 5 years, the NBA has embraced a three-point heavy style. The emergence of the Splash brothers took Mike D’Antoni’s  seven second offense and turned it into the standard. While the Brooklyn Nets have adjusted to this new age NBA, there is another style they’re poised to duplicate.

While most teams view the Golden State Warriors three-point shooting as their most dangerous weapon, that is an incomplete analysis. It is in fact their versatility that makes them elite.

Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks use “positionless” basketball to create mismatches. Similarly, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a nightmare for opponents when they move Lebron James to power forward. Until players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid hit their prime, few teams can combat small-ball lineups. 

With a revamped roster and youth movement, Sean Marks has equipped Kenny Atkinson with personnel that gives the Nets a unique advantage. This advantage rests in the quality, depth, and interchangeable nature of their wing players.

Examining Brooklyn’s roster, while they lack a superstar, they are as deep a team 1-13 as any in the NBA. Below is a snapshot of their depth chart.

Point Guard- Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Whitehead, Spencer Dinwiddie

Shooting Guard- D’Angelo Russell, Sean Kirkpatrick, Caris Levert

Small Forward – Allen Crabbe, Demarre Carroll, Joe Harris

Power Forward- Trevor Booker, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Center-Timofey Mozgov, Jarrett Allen

If the Nets role out their expected starting lineup, they will have more fire power than last year. However, Atkinson has options for a variety of lineups that can create favorable match-ups.

With Lin, Russell, Dinwiddie, and Whitehead, the Nets have four players that can play on the ball as the primary play-maker, or as the off guard offensively and defensively. Similarly, Crabbe, Levert, and Kilpatrick can give strong minutes at the small forward and shooting guard positions. 

However, the Nets ability to play Hollis-Jefferson or Carroll anywhere from shooting guard through power forward is where their greatest advantage is. Looking at the Warriors strengths, Atkinson may take several pages from Steve Kerr’s book.

With Steph Curry, Shaun Livingston, Ian Clark, and Patrick McCaw, the Warriors had four players they could play at point or shooting guard.  However, with Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, the Warriors had seven players that could bring the ball up court.  Each of these players was also comfortable moving the ball quickly, and moving without the ball.

In addition to their personnel, the Nets also transformed into a three-point heavy shooting team. In 2016-2017, Brooklyn ranked sixth in three pointers made.  While they connected on just 33.8 percent of those attempts, adding Crabbe and Russell coming off 44 and 33 percent shooting seasons will help efficiency from range.

Next: Brooklyn Nets: backcourt preview

Furthermore, although Carroll shot just 34 percent in the isolation offense of the Toronto Raptors, Atkinson’s system should bring him back to his Atlanta days where he shot 37.9 percent from deep.

All things considered, we are in store for an action packed season in Brooklyn.  Look for the Nets to run and gun in similar fashion to last season.  However, with more play-makers, better shooters, and versatile personnel, the Nets are no longer the league doormat.