The Nets are known for their Big Three, but don’t forget about the little guys.
We’re talking about the seventh, eighth, or ninth man who could help fill out the back end of Brooklyn’s roster. They put in their minutes, hustle and grind, and then take a seat on the sidelines to wait until the Nets need them again. Because they will need them, come postseason, when injuries strike and ailments abound. The Nets weren’t prepared for their catastrophic roster losses last season, and they won’t make the same mistake this time around.
In Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks, only five Nets players got points on the scoreboard. Nash’s choice to shorten the rotation and let KD and Harden play all 53 minutes (including overtime) makes sense, given what was on the line, but we all saw KD’s game-ending air ball. I saw it. You saw it. It was all too obvious. Even the stars could use a short break every now and then, and adding some necessary depth in the backcourt would go a long way towards keeping players healthy and performing at their best level.
Don’t think of the little guys as bench players. Think of them as pound-for-pound contributors who know how to make the most of their time on the court. Many will have to take a salary cut to join Brooklyn, but that’s just the price to pay for being on a championship contending team.
Here are 3 forgotten free agents that Brooklyn should target at deadline.
3. Juwan Morgan
After going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, Juwan Morgan had a take a bit of a longer path to land a spot on the Utah Jazz roster. He played a season for Utah’s G-League team, where he quickly proved he didn’t belong: in 15 games he averaged 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks. The former Hoosier has since been a fringe rotation player for the Jazz, which bodes well for his potential integration on the Nets. He’s done this off-the-bench thing before.
Unless Morgan’s looking for more minutes, which nullifies any possible move to Brooklyn, he would be a fine addition to the Nets’ lamentable bench. In 2020, he became the first undrafted rookie to start an NBA playoff game against the Denver Nuggets. The Jazz ultimately fell to the Nuggets over seven games, but in that game, Morgan soared to the occasion. He doesn’t have the same impact as, say, KD, but he’s a role player first, and he fits perfectly in the low-usage defensive-first role expected of him. In other words, he does exactly what the coach tells him to do.
Morgan was used to guard Paul Millsap, space the floor with a few corner threes, and attack the glass when possible. He did just that, playing 25 minutes, scoring three points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out one assist and playing sturdy defense on Millsap. The most surprising stat of all: Morgan finished with the highest plus-minus in the game at plus-17.
Of course, it’s just one game. It could be an anomaly. But given the kid’s track record, it looks like he’s only going upward from here. Morgan bet on himself in the G-League rather than going overseas for the money, and it paid off. He found a way to latch onto a roster spot for a playoff contending team, earning over $2 million in his first two seasons as an undrafted, undersized player. On Utah, he’s been good. On Brooklyn, he could be even better.