The Brooklyn Nets look to finally be turning the corner as a franchise. They are playing great basketball and part of the credit has to go to their bench.
There’s a line from the song Tuscan Leather by Drake that goes “Bench players talking like starters, I hate it.” However, you can’t hate on what the Brooklyn Nets bench has been doing over the past few weeks.
A finalist for Most Improved Player last season, Spencer Dinwiddie has picked up where he left off last season and has had an even stronger season this year. Dinwiddie is the spearhead of the Nets’ reserves and provides much-needed scoring and playmaking off the bench.
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He’s usually the first guy off the bench, so he is very comfortable playing with players on both the starting and reserve units. Although he does come off the bench, he does play starter’s minutes and is more often than not in the game come crunch time.
His durability is also something worth noting as he has played in all of Brooklyn’s 42 games this season. In just under 29 minutes per game, Dinwiddie is averaging 17.1 points and 5.1 assists per game.
He has the ability to work within the offense as well as improvise and isolate on a defender. These are all reasons why he is also in the running for Sixth Man of the Year.
Ed Davis might be the best offseason signing Nets general manager Sean Marks made. Each game proves just why his former Portland Trail Blazers teammates were upset when the team didn’t keep him. Davis provides excellent energy off the bench.
Without a doubt, his biggest contribution to the team is his rebounding ability. Already in his eighth year, Davis currently averages 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 points in 18.2 minutes per game.
Davis is also a force on the offensive glass as well, averaging 3.0 offensive rebounds per game. Diving deeper into just how impactful Davis is on the boards, he has an offensive rebounding percentage of 17.7, which is the best in the NBA.
He is also first in terms of total rebounding percentage at 25.6. The dirty work and hustle that Davis provides off the bench have played a big role in many of the Nets wins, especially down the stretch of games.
Known as the Swag Daddy around the league, DeMarre Carroll isn’t just showing out off the court but on. Although he has had some tough stretches this season, he has really come on as of late.
In his last 10 games, Carroll is averaging 13.3 points per game and is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. He has been especially good in his last three games scoring just under 20 points per game and coming up huge down the stretch.
Although he makes his fair share of mistakes on the court, Carroll is usually a calming presence on the floor and provides that veteran leadership, alongside Jared Dudley, that is key in helping a young team succeed.
It will be interesting to see what the Nets do with Carroll as the trade deadline nears. His expiring contract is one that could be moved for a better rotation player for the playoff run.
Another low-key great signing done by Marks was former Trail Blazers guard Shabazz Napier. Now in his fifth year out of UConn, Napier has struggled to find a solid role in the NBA. However, coming to the Nets may have given Napier new life and has brought his stock back up.
During the Nets’ 10-game stretch in December where they went 9-1 Napier only saw action in one game and that was a blowout win against the Atlanta Hawks. But he stayed ready and waited for his time to come, and it looks like now is that time.
Over the last six games, Napier has played just over 25 minutes per game, averaging 15.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. He even tied his career high in scoring with 32 in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
When in the game Shabazz is a ball of energy, but at 6’1″ makes his presence felt on the court. When not on the court you can see him as part of the infamous Nets bench mob.
The Nets bench has played out of its mind all season but especially as of late. In their win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 2, they outscored the New Orleans bench 55-5. They also outscored the Memphis bench Friday 51-20.
Brooklyn has one of the more reliable bench units in the league and it shows night in and night out. When the bench players are not only talking, but acting like starters, it makes for a more complete team.