Brooklyn Nets: Looking at the sixth man role

The Brooklyn Nets have assembled one of the best benches in the Eastern Conference. With general manager Sean Marks loading up on new frontcourt players and solid returning guys, who will be Brooklyn’s sixth man next season?

The Brooklyn Nets bench will be a key piece to their success next season. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson likes to make substitutions throughout the game and giving some bench players up to 25 minutes per game.

The Brooklyn Nets have a talented bench entering the 2018-19 season. Most of the Nets reserves can play multiple positions, which is a huge plus. With many players who can play multiple positions, can Atkinson give his bench players the minutes they want?

The answer will depend on how the specific player embraces his role and his production.

The minutes question will not be answered until the 2018-19 season begins. One question that can be answered is who should Brooklyn’s sixth man be? Before we get into this, this is Brooklyn’s  projected starting lineup for next season.

Point guard: D’Angelo Russell
Shooting guard: Allen Crabbe
Small forward: DeMarre Carroll
Power forward: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Center: Jarrett Allen

This projected lineup was the most common starting lineup for Brooklyn last season. This combination of players was the most productive lineup for the Nets and played well together. D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen are guaranteed locks at their positions for starting jobs.

All the other positions will be mixed around throughout next season. With that said, who should Brooklyn have as their sixth man next season? His name is Joe Harris.

Joe Harris should be the sixth man for Brooklyn next season

General manager Sean Marks quickly agreed to a new deal with Joe Harris shortly after NBA free agency was under way on July 1. Harris signed a two-year $16 million deal, with the Nets using their early Bird rights on Harris to exceed the salary cap.

Last season, Harris played in a total of 78 games and started only 14 of them. The reason Harris started those 14 games was due to backcourt injuries. Harris is capable of making an argument for a starting job over Allen Crabbe, but is likely to play a majority of next season off the bench.

Harris averaged 25.3 minutes and 10.8 points per game last season. Keep in mind, Harris came off the bench for a great majority of that season. When coming off the bench, Harris embraces his role on both ends of the floor.

On the offensive end of the floor, his main job off the bench is to score. Due to his size and skill set, Harris plays the wing position for Brooklyn and does well at that position. Harris is a sharpshooter from behind the arc and is arguably one of the best bench players to shoot the 3 ball.

He shot 41.9 percent from behind the arc on 4.6 shots from deep per game last season. Harris is the most consistent 3-point shooter on the Brooklyn Nets and can shoot the 3-ball off the dribble and as a spot-up shooter. He also shoots the 3 ball extremely well off catch-and-shoot plays.

With a very strong 3-point shooting game, Harris has a great mid-range game. The 26 year-old wing shoots the mid-range jumper with confidence and consistency. To go along with his strong mid-range shooting, Harris is an excellent driver.

He likes to drive the ball and look for contact. Harris drives the ball great through traffic and can finish at the rim with both hands.

With his strong offensive game comes his solid defensive game. Harris’ defensive game is highly overlooked, due to Brooklyn’s overall defensive view. To many, Brooklyn does not do a great job defending, especially its frontcourt.

Opposing teams usually big high scoring nights when playing the Nets, but most of their points was due to their weak frontcourt. Now that Marks added six new frontcourt players this offseason, the Nets’ defense will be better than last season.

Harris is a good defender. Off the ball, Harris does a great job of reading passes and the opposing offense’s next move. He is a great help defender who commonly traps players, leading to turnovers.

When it comes to defense, Harris is known to be a steal threat who can make that steal into transition points. Harris is a lock-down defender who is rarely caught sleeping on the defensive end. Compared to his backcourt teammates, Harris is the most consistent defender.

So why does Harris not start for the Brooklyn Nets? The answer is he plays at higher level off the bench and his impact is more felt with that role. Atkinson needs his sixth man to be consistent and play great on both ends of the floor each night.

Well, there is no better player to fit that category than Joe Harris.

Now that Harris signed a new deal, it is expected he will have a bigger role this upcoming season. Harris can be expecting more minutes per game and will get some opportunities to start games next season, but he knows his main role is the top option off the bench.

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Expect Harris to have a career year next season and be Brooklyn’s sixth man next season.

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