Examining Isaiah Whitehead’s role on the Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Isaiah Whitehead
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Isaiah Whitehead /

The Brooklyn Nets are off to a good start. Brooklyn has won two of its first three games of the season. Even in their lone loss, the Nets scored a whopping 131 points against Indiana. The team is winning, but Isaiah Whitehead is nowhere to be found.

Isaiah Whitehead is in no man’s land right now. His Brooklyn Nets have a winning percentage for the first time in years but he has yet to play single minute.

After having such a prominent role in his rookie season, it is a bit baffling as to why Whitehead hasn’t cracked the rotation through the season’s first three contests.

There are a few reasons that explain this though. First, coach Kenny Atkinson has shortened his rotations. So far, the Nets have employed 10-man lineups in the team’s opening stretch. With that, there is less room for a guy like Whitehead, whose offensive role as a combo guard makes him difficult to slot into a second unit.

More from Nothin' But Nets

Secondly, there is a glut of guards. Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie all deserve minutes over the second year man out of Seton Hall. Even with Jeremy Lin’s injury, there are few minutes for Whitehead in a lineup that is flourishing offensively.

Last year, Whitehead and Dinwiddie were the team’s primary backups to Lin. When Lin would miss games, the two competed for the starting point guard spot. Dinwiddie won the job.

Dinwiddie has only improved from his stellar first season with Brooklyn. He is scoring 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds per-36 minutes a game while effectively running the team’s bench unit. His shooting percentages should only improve as the offense continues to gel.

Whitehead is a victim of a crowded roster. This is a good problem for Brooklyn.

Last season, Whitehead was the de facto starter when Lin went down. Now he is struggling for minutes. This is less an indictment of his skills and more about the improved roster Sean Marks has built.

For now, we may see Whitehead shuffle back and forth between the Brooklyn Nets and their G-League affiliate Long Island Nets. Should an injury strike, we may see Whitehead get minutes for the team in emergency situations.

Until then, the “Cyclone” from Coney Island will have to prove that he can be a long-term building block for a team that appears ahead of schedule in their rebuild.