The Brooklyn Nets, despite their bad injury luck and questions about how Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving would all fit together in the rotation, managed to scratch out the second seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will face off against either the Washington Wizards or Boston Celtics in the first round.
While Kyrie’s 50/40/90 season, Durant’s usual brand of scoring excellence, and Harden’s propensity for triple-doubles have helped the Nets pile up many of these victories, Brooklyn has seen some of their reserve players start to emerge as contributors over the course of the season.
Even after the LaMarcus Aldridge retirement, the likes of Blake Griffin and Nic Claxton have stepped up in the frontcourt. Jeff Green and Bruce Brown have been trusted reserves that Steve Nash can’t drop out of the rotation under any circumstance.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Nets are in such good spirits that they were able to create the highlight of the year with this jaw-dropping display, some changes will need to be made to this rotation, as the grind of the postseason could take something out of the Nets.
Brooklyn Nets ideal playoff rotation
- PG: James Harden, Mike James
- SG: Kyrie Irving, Landry Shamet
- SF: Joe Harris, Bruce Brown
- PF: Kevin Durant, Jeff Green
- C: Blake Griffin, Nic Claxton
The biggest exclusion from the playoff rotation is DeAndre Jordan, who has given the Brooklyn Nets frontcourt that added degree of muscle that they needed over the last few weeks. Ultimately, he is too offensively limited to warrant time in the postseason, and he lacks the defensive chops of Claxton to sneak into the lineup in this method.
Griffin offers little on the defensive side of the ball, but he is showing that the offensive slump he was in with Detroit is a thing of the past, and he can be relied on to get a bucket or two down the stretch. With a solid scoring touch and the ability to get some rebounds at a rate we haven’t seen since his last All-Star season, Griffin has been a nice development.
Green might be balling on a veteran minimum, but his production and ability to line up in three different sports should make him a valued commodity off of the bench. Second units beware, Green is eyeing some gaudy scoring numbers at your expense. Alize Johnson has been great, but he could run into some issues in the postseason.
Brown might be listed as a small forward, but he can play point guard equally well. Ultimately, Brown’s skillset is just better used at the small forward spot, as he has the rebounding chops and defensive tenacity needed to slow down some players much bigger than he is. This will allow Landry Shamet to play at shooting guard.
Shamet has cooled off a tad after his hot streak in the middle of the season, but he can still catch fire from 3-point range, so he is worth getting some run in the playoffs. Mike James has shown enough skill at the point guard spot to get reps ahead of Tyler Johnson, as leaning on a more traditional point like James could be what takes the Nets over the top.
The Nets are among the favorites to take home the title, but if they hit a wall in the later rounds, going with a curtailed rotation like this might be what ends up taking them over the top. Of course, if one or all of the superstars end up taking the game over, this could end up becoming a moot point, as that offensive punch will carry them to wins.