3. Small guard a defensive challenge
The Brooklyn Nets are capable of handling perimeter scorers because they have a nice combination of quickness and switchable length with players such as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris along with two much-improved defenders in Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell.
But what the Nets may not have an answer for is the challenge presented by 6-foot-1 inch Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets.
Neither of those players is the caliber of Walker, a two-time All-Star and the leading scorer among guards in the Eastern Conference at nearly 25 points per game.
Another defender who has been seeing a fair share of defensive work against elite guards has been rookie Rodions Kurucs, who is deceptively quick at 6-foot-9 and causes problems with his 7-foot-2 wingspan.
But Kurucs can also foul when he gets into trouble and Walker is experienced enough and quick enough to create that sort of trouble for the kid.
A potential wild card for Brooklyn is reserve guard Shabazz Napier.
Napier has seen his minutes dwindle during the Nets’ recent run of eight wins in nine games with the elevation of Kurucs into the rotation and later the starting unit.
But Napier, like Walker, is small and lightning-quick. Like Walker, Napier is 6-foot-1 and Napier has some inside scoop on the Hornets’ All-Star.
If Napier’s offensive style resembles Walker’s, that’s not a coincidence. When Walker was a junior leading the University of Connecticut to a national championship, Napier was his freshman backup.
If Walker abuses Brooklyn’s bigger defenders, Napier could be a potential answer.