The Brooklyn Nets were physically outmatched in their first round playoff matchup last season, culminating in a competitive but failing effort in a 4-0 series sweep. One of, if not the most important issue, was the team’s disadvantage in the height/size department compared to their opposition.
To solve any problem, you need to first recognize its existence. Thankfully, Brooklyn’s front office did that this summer, placing newly acquired pieces T.J. Warren and Markieff Morris beside Ben Simmons, all of whom are well equipped to even the odds on the height scale.
How Ben Simmons, T.J. Warren, and Markieff Morris Upgrade the Brooklyn Nets
According to ESPN, the average height of the top six players categorized by minutes in Game 1 (the most competitive contest of the series) reached six-foot-five for the Nets and six-foot-six for the Boston Celtics.
While on the surface level that seems to be a minuscule difference, the data differs tremendously when you look further. If you take out of consideration the two players on each side occupying primarily the four and five, the difference in height (and general size) is significantly more dramatic.
After removing Kevin Durant and Nic Claxton on Brooklyn’s side, along with Al Horford and Robert Williams on Boston’s side, the height difference swells to nearly three inches.
Warren, Simmons, and Morris are here to cut into that figure. With their collective stature and ability to guard multiple positions, they make today’s Nets a far more equal match for the reigning Eastern Conference champs than last year’s.
Warren is, too many, the most notable addition to the reserve unit this offseason. Remembered fondly by many NBA fans for his COVID bubble heroics a few seasons back, Warren’s ability to put the ball through the basket will be a valuable addition to the bench unit.
What we’re looking at here though is Warren’s size. As a six-foot-eight forward defends guard positions, Warren’s versatility allows the Nets to play more physically. Warren will likely take on the defensive assignments formerly covered by Bruce Brown—all while adding more height and roughly 20 pounds of weight.
Morris only joined the Nets a few weeks ago and according to a report from Marc Stein’s Substack Column, Joe Tsai himself was involved in the pitch to Morris. Keef is a large, intimidating presence at six-foot-nine, 245 pounds and should be able to impose himself from the power forward spot in a way that Brooklyn could not last season. While he still has some to offer on the offensive end, Morris’s true value comes in his defensive versatility and this physicality he will provide for the Nets.
Finally, let’s move onto Brooklyn’s marquee pickup in the James Harden trade, the controversial yet exceptionally talented point guard (or just about any position you want to label him as) Ben Simmons.
Simmons’s resume speaks for itself. The three-time All-Star and Third Team All-NBA selection has somehow flown under the radar on media platforms, but it is challenging to doubt his pedigree as a player.
Though his offensive skills continue to go questioned by some, it is difficult to do so at the defensive end. Simmons already has two All-Defensive First Team selections under his belt and led the league in steals once.
Simmons is one of the few players in the league that can legitimately guard one through five and is one of the premier perimeter defenders today. The six-foot-eleven guard is expected to make his long-awaited Nets debut at the beginning of this season and will look to make a huge impact on defense from the jump.
Brooklyn’s additions this offseason have addressed numerous issues that left last season’s roster wanting. But the issue of size and physicality came first and foremost. For that reason, don’t expect to see our boys get manhandled as they did this past spring.