Bigs in Brooklyn Will Have a Different Role

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson /

In Kenny Atkinson’s first year as head coach, the Brooklyn Nets offensive attack included their big men stepping outside to shoot threes. However, things will be different this year. We take a look at how each big will contribute to Brooklyn’s offensive success.

Many fans expected the Nets’ approach to change with new leadership. People have grown tired of the team with seemingly no identity, offensively or defensively.

The Nets took chances on free agents such as Jeremy Lin, Randy Foye, Luis Scola, Greveis Vasquez, and Justin Hamilton. All of those players have reputations of being capable three-point shooters. There were rumblings of Kenny Atkinson’s vision to shoot more threes, but nobody really knew what the Nets had in store.

Well, Brook Lopez took 387 threes. His previous career high in attempts was 14 the year before. Justin Hamilton wasn’t shy either, as he attempted 180 shots from distance. However, both are no longer with the team. The Nets could be looking to change their style of play to be more athletic and defensive-minded.

It’s clear the new Nets bigs will have different roles on this team. To put this in perspective, Lopez and Hamilton attempted 567 threes last season. All of the bigs on the Nets current roster (RHJ, Mozgov, Booker, Acy, Allen) have attempted a combined 550 threes for their entire career.

Changes are coming.

So, how will each big fare in the Nets offensive system in 2017-18?

Timofey Mozgov Alright, time to pump the brakes on Mozgov taking 100+ three-pointers this season. Yes, there’s video of him nailing 9/10 wide-open, top-of-the-key threes. Yes, he said he’s confident in his ability to shoot from outside. However, the Nets no longer need to rely on their bigs to make these shots. The additions of DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe should help space the floor for the guards to create offense.

Where Mozgov will find value is with his energy and passing ability. Most likely, he’ll start at center for Brooklyn, and it’s crucial for this team to start the game the right way. Make the extra pass, dive on the floor for a loose ball; make winning plays. Mozgov’s court vision is highly underrated. He’ll have an opportunity to display his skills on pick-and-rolls, where he can find open, capable shooters around him. Plus, his chemistry with D’Angelo Russell should help him make an immediate impact on the floor.

Prediction for Mozgov: 12 PPG, 8 RPG, 3.5 APG

Trevor Booker – The Nets know what they’re going to get with Booker. He’s the energy guy. He’ll do the dirty work around the basket, defend at a high level, and most importantly, play with one goal in mind: winning. Booker doesn’t care about his season averages, which makes him a perfect back-up power forward to the improving Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

He attempted 78 threes last season, and connected on 32% of his efforts. Not bad, could be better. Problem is, Booker’s career average from distance is 31.5%. While I’d like to think Atkinson and the development team can help push Booker well-above his career average, it seems unlikely. There are too many kinks in his jump shot that spell trouble, and besides, his game is already effective without the threat of the three-pointer.

For next season, expect a similar Trevor Booker. One thing that may change is the amount of dribbles he takes this season, though. He often over-dribbled his way into turnovers last year, but with added talent in the backcourt, expect Booker to accept his role as a high-energy power forward.

Prediction for Booker: 9 PPG, 7 RPG, 33% 3PT

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – The mystery of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Will he expand his game to the perimeter? Is he the power forward of the future in Brooklyn? Where can he excel on the court?

Hopefully, all of these questions are answered this season. RHJ has only played in 107 games in his NBA career. That number may seem like a lot, but it takes time to get adjusted to the NBA style of play, especially when your skill-set is rather limited. Hollis-Jefferson is still attempting to figure out what works, and what doesn’t work at this level. The transformation from shooting guard/small forward to the power forward position has given him an opportunity to show he belongs.

Defensively, he keeps improving. Right now, it’s his calling card, but he still must improve in several aspects on that end. We’ll save that for another day. How will he fit in on the offensive side of things? Will he take more than the 67 threes he shot last year? My answer is no. I think he’ll hover around that number, but at this point in time, I don’t see Atkinson encouraging him to shoot more threes. However, I think that time will come, but only once his jump shot is completely ‘fixed’ by the development staff. In the meantime, he needs to continue to attack the basket and play with confidence.

This could be a big year for Hollis-Jefferson, and I anticipate a lot of his looks coming from mid-range. My guess is the staff is aiming for the 2018-19 version of RHJ to step behind the 3-point line and confidently let it fly.

Prediction for Hollis-Jefferson: 12 PPG, 7 RPG, 2.5 APG

Quincy Acy – The Nets know they will get a determined, hardworking forward who has the ability to stretch the floor when they insert Acy into the lineup. He’s the most skilled shooting big man on the Nets roster, and should continue to get looks from beyond the arc. The NBA journeyman has found a home in Brooklyn, and fits perfectly with the organization.

Acy will battle for minutes with Trevor Booker, but his path to increased minutes got much easier when the Nets dealt Andrew Nicholson for Allen Crabbe. Expect Acy to keep launching from deep in 2017-18.

Prediction for Acy: 6 PPG, 5 RPG, 37% 3PT

Next: A Pair of Brooklyn Nets Find New Teams

Jarrett Allen – It’s tough to predict the offensive production we’ll see from Jarrett Allen in his rookie season. At his introductory press conference, Kenny Atkinson didn’t downplay the chances of him being the starting center for the team. Now however, his role is being questioned by many pundits around the league. His weight/strength are still a cause for concern, but that should change over time.

Jarrett Allen has an opportunity to be the recipient of many plays above the rim. His 7’5″ wingspan gives him an advantage over most players around the league, and his Clint Capela comparison is interesting to say the least. Russell, Lin, LeVert, Kilpatrick, Dinwiddie, and Whitehead all possess the necessary speed and athleticism to get into the teeth of a defense, forcing defenders to help off of their man. Expect Jarrett Allen to catch some lobs in Barclay’s in 2017-18.

Prediction for Allen: 7 PPG, 5 RPG, 2 BPG