The Brooklyn Nets might seem like a team built around standout guard play given the likes of James Harden and Joe Harris in the backcourt, but thanks to bangers like Blake Griffin, Nicolas Claxton, and LaMarcus Aldridge in the frontcourt, Steve Nash might have a bit of a logjam on his hands in that area.
After suffering through some very poor performances thanks to DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn found out that they needed some major reinforcements down low. They added Griffin and Aldridge via buyouts last season, promoted Claxton into the rotation after a very strong start, and signed another veteran in Paul Millsap this offseason.
The Nets will have most of their starters set in stone, even after Kyrie Irving’s bizarre departure from the team for the time being, but there is still some uncertainty regarding that final center spot.
Aldridge started last year during his very brief stint, but will Steve Nash lean on the aging veteran’s experience over Griffin’s offense or Claxton’s defense?
Nash might lean on a bit of an unconventional way of doing business if he wants to get the most out of this team. Instead of picking one starter and sticking with them, could he decide to rotate them in and out based on the opponent?
As weird as it seems, this orientation could help the Nets get exploitable matchups against some of their competitors in the East. They are going to be a great offensive team thanks to Harden and Kevin Durant, so why not try to experiment a little bit to find the right combinations down low?
The Brooklyn Nets should experiment with their center rotation.
All of these frontcourt pieces have such complementary skills. While Aldridge is best served as a shrewd mid-range operator that can distribute the ball, Griffin is a stretch big that is equally comfortable sniping teams to death from beyond the 3-point line. Claxton is a positionless defender with bounce, and Millsap is an old-school bruiser in the paint.
Let’s say the Nets are playing an up-tempo team that likes to push the pace. Why not start Griffin or Claxton? They can help slow down their offensive attack and turn the tables on the other end. On the flip side, why not put them on the bench in favor of Alridge or Millsap whenever they are going against a team that likes to play through elite post players?
This would be an unusual arrangement, but all four of these players have talent, and it would be a waste to turn them into benchwarmers for large chunks of the season. The more ways that the Nets can attack their opponents, the better.
In addition, Aldridge is only back after getting medically cleared following an irregular heartbeat issue that ended his 2020-21 season. The Nets have to be mindful of Aldridge’s health, and getting him in a timeshare with Griffin, Claxton, and Millsap could be the best way to ensure he can give maximum effort in as many games as possible.
Aldridge will be able to give this team the shot in the arm they need on offense, as he proved during his very brief chunk of minutes on the floor last year, but flexibility will have to be the name of the game for the Nets, as their frontcourt mixture needs to be able to adapt if Brooklyn is to fulfill their potential.
The Nets can use the early parts of the season to experiment and figure out the correct combinations. If they develop a winning formula, that could be what puts them over the top in a very competitive conference.