The Brooklyn Nets need some of their contributors to step up and get things done to take some of the pressure off Kevin Durant and James Harden. After a decade with the San Antonio Spurs, Patty Mills was intrigued enough by this challenge to make the trip to New York.
So far, Mills has been exceptional. In 18 games, four of which have been starts, the 33-year-old guard is averaging what would be a career-high 11.9 points per game while converting on 48% of his 3-point attempts this year.
Mills and the rest of the Brooklyn backcourt have needed to buckle down due to some injuries making it hard for Steve Nash to roll out a fully healthy lineup. Amid all of their tinkering, it appears as though Brooklyn has stumbled upon a lineup combination that could change the scope of their starting rotation.
However, to put this lineup on the floor as often as possible, the Nets would need to move Bruce Brown to the bench in favor of Mills. As contrarian as that move might sound, the efficiency numbers on both ends of the floor that the Nets have registered while leaning on this 5-man combo have been very impressive.
Will the Brooklyn Nets start Patty Mills?
According to Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), a lineup featuring Harden and Mills at the guard spots, Durant and Joe Harris as the forwards, and LaMarcus Aldridge at center has the best point differential of any Brooklyn combination with 60 or more possessions. While this would take some offense away from the bench unit, there’s an easy fix for that.
Sub Harden out midway through the first quarter and bring Brown in to replace him. While he joins the starters for most of the end of the first, Harden can return with the bench players to start the second quarter.
This both counteracts the lack of bench shooting with Mills in the starting lineup and allows Harden to take over games by dominating the ball as he did in Houston. When the Nets need buckets, simply revert to their original starting lineup and let one of five above-average offensive players hit the shots needed to take home a win.
Mills has been a revelation this season, and the Nets would be wise to lean on the fact that he has a high level of comfort playing alongside Durant and Harden. With a certain player that likes to wear No. 11 still not rejoining the team, Mills may be the best option this team had to replace him as the calendar flips.
Unless, of course, the Nets have a trade in mind, but we won’t hold our breath for that.