It’s no secret that last year’s Brooklyn Nets roster suffered significant upheaval. Driven by a mixture of injuries, COVID-19 related absences, and Irving’s clash with NYC vaccine mandates, the Nets often had to dip deep into the reserves to find players to fill minutes.
Enter second round pick Kessler Edwards. Though some luck was involved in his initial selection, it is difficult to deny that Edwards made an immediate positive impact on the roster, and was to some the standout rookie from the 2021-22 season.
In 48 appearances (including 23 starts) the rookie made effective contributions on both sides of the ball, playing above average defense and providing solid shooting touch.
But now things have changed. The Nets find themselves with far more wing depth provided by offseason acquisitions that will challenge for these minutes that Edwards filled last season. He even acknowledged the change in situation at media day this week.
There is no question that his minutes will have to be earned this season, but if last year’s performance, fresh out of college, is any indication than Edwards looks ready to fill the modern 3-and-D role that today’s NBA franchises crave.
Last season while averaging a tad over 20 minutes per game, Edwards averaged 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game. That resembles a somewhat muted stat line, yet the case for Edwards lies in the details.
Kess shot over 35.0 percent from three as a rookie and projecting a slight increase makes for a hopeful outlook on his future as a Nets role player. He will never have to contribute as a volume scorer while Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving lead the offense.
If Edwards can continue to shoot the three at a respectable percentage (and hopefully even with slight improvement) as well as provide versatile defense, the inclusion of new players competing for the same minutes should do little to reduce his role for the Nets.
If the Nets are smart, they will seek to include Edwards in their game plans early and often, as the second year player has the ability to contribute not just to Brooklyn’s future, but their present as well.
High level role players who can shoot the triple and defend multiple positions are one of the most sought after categories of players today. Edwards can do just that and has the potential to improve dramatically. The Nets may have found themselves a gem in the second round, they cannot squander it in 2022.