Imagining a possible Brooklyn Nets playoff rotation

With a return to the 2019/20 NBA season doubtful, let’s imagine what a Brooklyn Nets playoff rotation may have looked like.

There are a slew of unknown possibilities for what the rest — if there is a rest — of the 2019-20 NBA season could look like. Options include fanless basketball, finishing the season in full during the summer, and even adding a play-in tournament for the final playoff spots (warning: this would cause complete and unforeseen chaos).

It remains highly unlikely that the injured Kyrie Irving or post-COVID-19/Achilles-tear Kevin Durant will be on board with the Brooklyn Nets as they stumble their way towards a first-round matchup against an Eastern-Conference powerhouse — unless they’re playing 2K20, of course.

Interim coach Jacque Vaughn has already made a few tweaks to his rotation since taking over the head coaching job from stalwart Kenny Atkinson, notably sliding DeAndre Jordan into the starting lineup and dropping Rodions Kurucs from the rotation.

Playoff basketball features shrunken rotations and matchup-driven basketball. The Nets may have no choice but to play bigger against Milwaukee or Toronto in the first round, meaning more minutes in tandem for Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince — surely a headache-inducing image for Nets fans. Against Boston (or Miami), expect more three-guard looks, making the return of Garrett Temple all the more valuable.

These projections are based on the (small) samples from Coach Vaughn and the assumption of a healthy roster aside from Irving and Durant. Considering multiple players on the roster were stricken with COVID, this may not be entirely feasible.

Starters:

Spencer Dinwiddie: 37 (minutes)

Caris LeVert: 37

Joe Harris: 33

Wilson Chandler: 28

DeAndre Jordan: 29

Vaughn rolled with this lineup in his first two games as interim coach, and expect nothing to change come playoff time. The slumping Taurean Prince’s TS% still sits below 50% and has not been as effective on the defensive end per DRPM as Chandler. The former Nugget has 17 pounds on the former Hawk and offers more defensive versatility.

Against bigger opposition, Harris may be bumped for Prince — if Prince could up his three-point percentage up from 33.9% to the 37-39% range come playoff time, Vaughn would feel a whole of a lot more confident.

Whether you believe Jordan coming off the bench caused internal friction and contributed towards Atkinson’s exit, he is the new starter and will continue to be going forward. Jordan and Jarrett Allen post nearly-identical pick-and-roll numbers (1.34 PPP to 1.33), but Jordan has improved his FT shooting and this will likely allow him to close with the starters.

Expect Dinwiddie and a now-healthy LeVert to continue to play big minutes.

Bench players:

Chris Chiozza: 11

Garrett Temple: 26

Taurean Prince: 20

Jarrett Allen: 19

Thanks in part to his strong play and Theo Pinson being a net-negative, Chris Chiozza has seized all backup lead-guard minutes. Under Vaughn, he has always been accompanied by LeVert on the floor, who appears more comfortable in an off-ball role (Atkinson tried him as backup PG, partially due to Pinson’s shortcoming). He can shoot a bit — 43.5 percent from three in 28 games — and will run a lot of P-&-R’s with Allen off the bench.

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The return of Temple could boot Timothy Luwawu-Cabarrot from the rotation. The former’s been a better defender per DWS (1.6 to .6), Defensive Real plus/minus (.46 to -.26), and 538’s defensive plus/minus (.7 to -.5). But TLC’s been shooting it a hair better from 3 and offers more size than Temple; once again, this could be matchup driven.