Continuity is something most major sports teams have not had due to COVID-19, and the Brooklyn Nets have been no different. The Nets have already played 21 different starting lineups in the 2021-2022 NBA season, and that includes lineups with rookie Kessler Edwards.
Having only played 43 games thus far in the season, that means that in 50% of the games, the Nets have had a different lineup. While it makes it nearly impossible to get into a rhythm, it has given players a chance to prove they belong, when normally they would not have gotten an opportunity.
This has especially been the case with the four rookies on the Nets’ roster – Cam Thomas, David Duke Jr., Day’Ron Sharpe, and Edwards. All have impressed and shown a different variety of skills that they can provide Brooklyn, but Edwards has shown he should remain in the starting lineup for a variety of reasons.
Having appeared in only 12 games for the Nets this season, the sample size is not the largest, but the results speak for themselves.
Edwards has started the last four games for Brooklyn and has shown the impact he can provide on both ends of the floor. Defense, rebounding, athleticism, and the ability to knock down a catch and shoot jump shot are the main attributes that complement the Nets’ Big Three (James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant) and Edwards has provided them all.
Here are two reasons why Edwards should remain in the starting lineup for Brooklyn.
2 reasons why Kessler Edwards should remain as a starter for the Brooklyn Nets.
When you think of Harden, Irving, and Durant, you think of three elite scorers, but not typically defensive players. You don’t want to have one of your stars chase around the opposition’s best player and truthfully that isn’t any of the Nets stars’ strength.
However, Edwards is a bigger (six-foot-seven) and longer body (six-foot-eleven wingspan) who can move his feet and harass the opponents’ number one scoring options.
Edwards is holding opponents to 28.3% from three whenever he’s the primary defender, in addition to this, he has a 108.2 defensive rating, which is above average in the league.
His impact was recently shown in the game against the Chicago Bulls on Jan.12. Edwards was chasing DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine all over the floor and DeRozan was only able to shoot 7-of-16 from the field, while Lavine hit some difficult shots to go 8-of-13.
Edwards finished the game with one block, three steals, and was a +8 in the blowout win.
The defensive prowess continued last Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans when Edwards was the primary defender against Brandon Ingram. Ingram is a talented three-level scorer and Edwards drew the assignment for most of the night.
Ingram was only able to shoot 5-of-14 in the first half, allowing the Nets to have a 28-point lead at halftime. Ingram finished with 22 points on 8-of-21 shooting from the field.
In addition to clamping the opposition, Edwards is an excellent rebounder. Because of his athleticism, he has had several put-back dunks this season and has a fearlessness to challenge anyone. On the season he is averaging 4.1 RPG while giving the Nets second-chance points and ending opponents’ offensive possessions.
This was displayed in his short time with the Long Island Nets, wherein seven games he averaged 8.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.6 BPG.
The best compliment to 3-ball dominant superstars is a player who can either cut to the basket and finish, or catch and shoot at a high level. Although it has been a very limited sample size, Edwards has shown he can do both.
Edwards is shooting 48.4% on field goals with zero dribbles and 43.9% on 3-point field goals with zero dribbles. In addition to this, he is shooting 60% from the field and 54.5% from the 3-point line on shots that are classified as “wide open” (six plus feet).
Whenever Harden, Kyrie, Durant get double-teamed, you need players around them who can knock down shots, and Edwards can do that.
Below is a video that displays Edwards’ man helping off and stunting on Durant as he drives. The result was a wide-open three and the rookie knocked it down.
His shooting ability was on full display last Saturday night as he shot 5-of-7 in the first half and 3-of-4 from the 3-point line for 13 points. Edwards finished the game with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting from three. This effort helped to bring him up to an overall of 42.9% on threes this season.
The Nets even began running a few plays for Edwards. In action with Patty Mills near the block, Edwards was able to knock down an open jump shot at the top of the key/wing.
In addition to shooting, Edwards has continually shown his ability to get above the rim to finish athletic dunks. Whether it is an alley-oop, a putback dunk, or leaking in transition, the rookie has left all of our jaws dropped with impressive finishes.
Below is another example of Edwards cutting to the open part of the floor (which was crucial considering Harden was in trouble at the top) and knocking down a jumper.
Edwards is the perfect 3&D player to compliment the Nets’ superstar players. Due to his floor spacing and defensive tenacity/rebounding, he needs to remain in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future and even challenge Joe Harris for the job when Harris returns from ankle surgery.
The sky is the limit for Edwards, and Sean Marks struck gold with the 44th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.