If Brooklyn Nets fans learned anything over the last two years it’s that stacking big names beside each other on a roster will not guarantee you a championship. With injuries playing a large factor and some chemistry issues sprinkled in as well, Brooklyn did not even make it past the first round last year even while wielding a star-studded roster.
Although the team still looks well equipped to contend for a title this coming season with blockbuster talents Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons at the helm, the buck needs to stop there. A few big-name free agents remain unsigned, but the Nets cannot let that sell them on their worth, with one player specifically looking all wrong for the Nets.
Why the Brooklyn Nets Should Not Sign Eric Bledsoe
With the Portland Trail Blazers cutting him back in March, Eric Bledsoe has persisted as one of the more exciting names on the free agent market for months now. The explosive veteran plays hard, runs like a muscle car, and was named to two NBA All-Defensive teams in the past three years.
However, he does not make much sense for the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn indeed needs some depth at the point guard spot. Behind Kyrie Irving, the team does not possess a ball-handler with Patty Mills, Edmond Sumner, and Cam Thomas all playing more of a combo-guard role. While Simmons knows how to run an offense, it makes more sense for him to play down low with how Brooklyn’s roster is currently constructed.
So theoretically, a rotation spot exists for Bledsoe. However, that does not and should not mean the team must sign him.
Unable to shoot from deep at any clip higher than 35 percent since his 2015-16 campaign, while still averaging at least 3.5 attempts per game each of those seasons, Bledsoe does not possess enough 3-point shooting prowess to stretch the floor.
Fielding five or at the very least four players able to threaten from deep keeps defenders on their toes and opens up scoring opportunities for your offense. Any team not partaking in this “stretch the floor” strategy is living dinosaur these days—certain to be left in the dust by all other NBA offenses.
With Brooklyn, finding spacing between Simmons and the team’s other bigs Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe will be a large enough challenge as it is. Adding a ball-dominant, non-floor spacer like Bledsoe would only add to that. It’s why he and Giannis Antetokounmpo never worked out and will surely induce headaches in Brooklyn all the same.
While Simmons and Bledsoe hitting the hardwood at the same time is already out of the question, playing him beside either Claxton or Sharpe promises to derail Brooklyn’s offense as well.
With Ben10’s height and size, playing him at the five allows Brooklyn to still stretch the floor one through four. For now, you can solve the team’s spacing dilemma that way.
But Bledsoe only stretches out to six-foot-one. Playing center is not an option for him, so any lineups featuring him will force Brooklyn to send out either Claxton or Sharpe. Doing so will reduce Brooklyn’s potential floor spacers reduces to three and make things easy on an opposing defense.
While some might look to Markieff Morris as a jump shooting center able to hit the floor with Bledsoe and consequentially make him effective, Keef only shot 31.1 percent from three during his final full season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, he played only 17 games due to injury, and in those contests shot 33.3 percent from deep.
Unfortunately, trusting Morris to play big minutes at center is not something the Nets can do right now, closing the door on Bledsoe as well. It’s a shame, as Bledsoe’s drive and kick skills would indeed work well beside guys like Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Joe Harris. But when you look beyond the shooters, Brooklyn’s roster does not Bledsoe’s play style.
While Brooklyn indeed needs some more depth at the point guard spot behind Uncle Drew, they are better off going in another direction. Grooming Cam Thomas into a true point guard or looking for a diamond in the rough still available in free agency represent solid places to start.