Taking a look at the Brooklyn Nets’ big men

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 26: Jarrett Allen
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 26: Jarrett Allen /

One of the main concerns about the Brooklyn Nets coming into the season was their weakness at center. Timofey Mozgov, Jarrett Allen and Tyler Zeller didn’t exactly scream dominance. In fact, Bleacher Report ranked the Nets as having the 27th ranked frontcourt entering the season, much due to their weakness at the five spot. Luckily for both the organization and for fans,  it seems as if the Nets have outshone this lowly projection. With over 50 games played so far, how should the Nets’ proceed with their frontcourt rotation?

Starting Center: Jarrett Allen

Jarrett Allen has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Brooklyn Nets this season. After being projected as a lottery pick going into his freshmen year at Texas, Allen fell short. He slipped to the 19th pick in the 2017 draft. After taking time to adjust to the speed of the game, Allen has played well as of late.

He’s posted 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over the past five games and started two of them. Allen fits the mold of the modern-day NBA center: he’s athletic, can shoot, and can defend the rim. Given that he is only 19, Kenny Atkinson would be smart to allow him to continue to develop in the starting lineup.

Bench Center: Jahlil Okafor

After a disappointing stint with the 76ers, Jahlil Okafor has proven that he still belongs in the NBA. While Okafor’s game is not as modern as Allen’s, he still possess the skills to be a capable back-up.

After sitting out 13 of his first 14 games with Brooklyn, Okafor has suddenly become a key rotation piece. He has played over a dozen minutes a game. Okafor’s skill set may not be as valuable as it once would have been, but Atkinson has done a great job in bringing him up to speed. As his athleticism and conditioning improve, it is more than likely that Okafor sees an uptick in minutes.

Reserve: Timofey Mozgov

Nets’ fans don’t really know how to feel about Timofey Mozgov. On one hand, his contract will send Nets into cap space hell until the end of the 2019-20 season. On the other, he helped Sean Marks net a potential franchise cornerstone in D’Angelo Russell.

Regardless of how you look at it, Mozgov brings very little to the Brooklyn Nets’ roster. Advertised as a defensive big, he has allowed players such as Nikola Vucevic, Kristaps Porzingis and Brook Lopez to hang thirty.

On offense, he isn’t much better. His inability to stretch the floor allows opposing centers to pack the paint, clogging all driving lanes to the basket. Given that it will be nearly impossible for the Nets to offload his monstrosity of a contract, it is likely that Mozgov occupies this role for the next two and a half seasons.

Trade Bait: Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller is easily the most confusing of the Nets’ bigs under contract. While he has played well, his minutes have been consistently dwindling to the point where he has now acquired DNP-CDs.

Due to the success of both Allen and Okafor, it seems as if Zeller is now expendable. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Nets try to move Zeller with the trade deadline looming. In just under 17 minutes per night, Zeller has shown progress as both a finisher and shooter. Perhaps some playoff could trade a second rounder to shore up their interior.

Next: Reassessing Jeremy Lin’s future role with the Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets have found themselves in a much better situation than was expected. Even if they don’t make any moves at the February 9th deadline (which would be somewhat of a surprise), Nets’ fans should be satisfied with the progress of their young big men.