The Brooklyn Nets are currently gearing up for the playoffs while they wait for an update on point guard Kyrie Irving’s status after he took a booming elbow to the face from Chicago Bulls big man Nicola Vucevic on Tuesday.
Only one game separates the Nets from the postseason, and they, assuming they maintain the No. 2 seed in the East, will have the luxury of locking horns against a team that just participated in the physically taxing play-in tournament.
Not only will Brooklyn have the talent advantage over whomever they start off with, but they’ll also be coming into that first round series after a week of rest, which is massive considering how many injuries this team has dealt with this season.
In other words, the first-round matchup should be a cakewalk for the Nets, meaning they could get away with rolling with a deep rotation in potentially lopsided games. However, the same cannot be said beyond the inaugural round.
In fact, some players on Brooklyn’s roster might lose their spot in the playoff rotation on a permanent basis once things get more competitive. So, which players should head coach Steve Nash and Co. pull the plug on come playoff time?
These three Nets players should be axed from the playoff rotation.
3. Mike James
This one’s tough, but the Nets can only deploy so many guards in a must-win scenario.
For as smooth as Mike James has been running the offense off the bench, we’re just not sure how he gets playing time with the likes of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Bruce Brown and Landry Shamet ahead of him in the backcourt pecking order.
What James lacks in 3-point marksmanship, he more than makes up for with his dazzling handles and uncanny ability to get to the rim despite being undersized. Therein lies the problem: the Nets already have too many players in their backcourt who are dynamic with the ball.
Mike James might become an afterthought the Nets’ rotation once the postseason comes around.
The importance of having a proven ball-handler/playmaker coming off the bench in the playoffs cannot be understated, but James is likely to be the odd man out in the rotation with Irving, Harden and Durant projected to have the ball in their hands most of the time.
Unlike the regular reason, the Nets will also have to emphasize defense come playoff time, and James simply doesn’t offer much at that end of the floor. While Harris and Shamet are no great shakes in one-on-one situations, their ability to spread the court as shooters means they’re a virtual lock to log significant minutes.
With Brown capable of defending multiple positions, being an underrated rebounder and contributing 8.7 points per game on 55.1% shooting, James, for as much as he deserved to have his contract extended until the end of the season, likely won’t have a role in the playoffs.