Brooklyn Nets: 3 things to watch in run-back game at Charlotte

Brooklyn Nets. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Rodions Kurucs. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

1. With Kurucs, Nets’ starting unit flexing offensive muscle

The Brooklyn Nets have used rookie Rodions Kurucs in the starting lineup for the last seven games and that new starting group has rapidly risen to the top of the NBA.

The group that includes Kurucs at the 3, D’Angelo Russell at the 1, Joe Harris at the 2, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the 4 and Jarrett Allen at the 5 has played together for 70 minutes and has posted an offensive rating of 125.7 points per 100 possessions.

That is the highest in the NBA for any five-man unit with at least 70 minutes together, ahead of the Dallas Mavericks’ quintet of DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic, which has an O-rating of 120.5 in 81 minutes.

This unit for Brooklyn has also put up a defensive rating of 107.1 and their net rating of plus-18.6 is the seventh-best among five-man groups with at least 70 minutes.

The best is the Toronto Raptors unit of Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, which is an off-the-charts plus-30.4 in 72 minutes.

What makes this unit so very dangerous offensively is ball movement. The five-man group has an assist ratio of 25.8, which is also tops among groups with at least 70 minutes together. The unit’s 62.7 effective field goal percentage is third on the list.

Dallas’ aforementioned five-man grouping is second at 62.8 percent, with a Golden State Warriors’ quintet of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Damian Jones (out with a torn left pectoral for the foreseeable future) putting up a 64.8 percent mark.

That’s some heady company to keep.

The Nets have two other five-man units with at least 70 minutes together.

Jared Dudley, Harris, Russell, injured Caris LeVert and Allen logged 161 minutes with an offensive rating of 106.0 and a net of minus-2.4.

A group with Allen Crabbe (currently out with a knee injury), Harris, Russell, Hollis-Jefferson and Allen has an O-rating of 105.9 with a net of plus-9.0, thanks to a sterling 96.8 defensive rating.

Kurucs has a surprisingly explosive first step off the dribble (surprising to those guys trying to defend him, at least), has a knack for knowing when and where to cut to the rim off the ball and is showing a better feel for finding open teammates.

That latter tendency showed itself in the first half when Kurucs passed up an open 3-point opportunity to rotate the ball one more time over to Russell, who was so wide open he might as well have been in his own area code. Russell splashed the shot.

Passing up good shots for great shots is a great mantra to live by, but it can be harder to do than it is to say. The Nets’ most recent iteration of its starting lineup, however, is putting that philosophy into action.

The results have been solid — Brooklyn is 6-1 with Kurucs in the starting unit.