The Brooklyn Nets might have Kevin Durant on the squad in addition to two of the finest scorers the game has seen in James Harden and Kyrie Irving, but offense alone won’t be enough to get this team to the promised land. The Nets placed a premium on added depth on the defensive end this offseason, highlighted by returning standout Bruce Brown.
Originally a point guard who was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for first-round flop Dzanan Musa, Brown quickly emerged as an undroppable player in the Brooklyn rotation. His skills enabled him to both lock down point guard and move down in the paint for extended periods of time.
The Nets liked what Brown brought to the table so much that they added a few more high-energy defenders in his wake. A draft-day trade that sent Landry Shamet to Phoenix brought Jevon Carter to Brooklyn, while former first-round pick DeAndre’ Bembry signed with the Nets after a solid season with the rival Raptors.
Brown claims that this combination of players will go all out if they are on the floor at the same time, promising that “no easy buckets” will be allowed on their watch. This is a sharp change from what we saw last year.
Bruce Brown and the Nets should have a better defense this year.
The Nets started off in disappointing fashion last year, and the defense was the main reason why. Kyrie Irving, who already isn’t the best defender ever, missed time with injuries, Jacque Vaughn’s scheme was way too passive, and opponents were turning DeAndre Jordan into barbecue chicken. Brown was rooted to the bench.
After some adjustments, including the addition of one of the more underrated defenders in the league in Harden, the Nets went on a tear. Despite being just 6-4, the Nets were able to use him as a center, of all things, with his interior finishing and passing ability from the post, and tenacity on defense drawing praise.
In Bembry and Carter, the Nets have added two more studs in that department, which should help keep foes at bay while Durant, Harden, and Irving lead the team to wins from the offensive end.
Bembry’s 6-6 frame was put to great use in Toronto, as he was able to bully smaller guards and match up nicely with some of the bigger wings in the league. Carter might be the smallest of the trio, but he was a nigh-unstoppable defender in college, and he’s carved out a very respectable pro career thanks to that.
The Nets will likely give even more run to third-year center Nicolas Claxton, who was very impressive during his time spent as a stand-in for both Jordan and the recently re-signed Blake Griffin. Get ready to switch everything next year!
The Nets ranked 21st in points allowed (114.1 per game) and 23rd in defensive rating last year, and while those numbers are by no means ideal, the Nets were performing much better as the year went on. Their 111.6 points allowed from February 10 onward would’ve ranked 12th in the NBA over the course of a full season.
The Nets will still be an offense-driven team that plays fast and tries to shoot as many 3-pointers as the game situation will allow, but in a league getting faster by the year, unleashing a new trio of perimeter stoppers could be the deciding factor in some close games against other title contenders.
Brown, Bembry, and Carter might not put up astronomical scoring numbers, but if they can knock the opposing team’s best player out of rhythm and make some easy looks every now and again on offense, that more than justifies Sean Marks choosing to make them parts of the rotation.