Brooklyn Nets Season Preview
The Brooklyn Nets continued their offseason “strategy” of piling up mediocre “assets” in the absence of high draft picks that have long been traded away. While the Nets are a veritable win-loss wasteland and will be for years to come, the team’s pace of play means fantasy possibility. However, whether it is general rotation indecisiveness, or throwing spaghetti at the wall in the hopes that something sticks, the lack of a defined rotation leads to too much uncertainty to recommend too many Nets as fantasy options.
Believe it or not, the Nets led the NBA in possessions per game with 104.9, a full 10 possessions a game better than the last place Utah Jazz. All those possessions should lead to fantasy goodness, but the Nets can’t pass or shoot or settle on a rotation. This will not get better in the coming season as the Nets have enough depth of mediocrity at each position to dilute potential fantasy value.
The Nets continue to acquire and stockpile low first-round draft picks because they have traded all of their own which sure would have been handy in the very deep 2017 draft. In the 2017 offseason, the Nets did what has been long rumored and dealt Brook Lopez to the Lakers, one of the only reliable fantasy options on the team. In return, the Nets acquired Timofy Mozgov’s albatross of a contract, a late first round draft pick and they got this guy named DeAngelo Russell. Additionally, the Nets dealt Justin Hamilton, who would have been a major fantasy asset in this system for DeMarre Carroll and a couple of draft picks. The cherry on top was the acquisition of Alan Crabbe and his massively overpriced contract that the Nets were not successful at bestowing in last year’s free agency.
From a fantasy perspective, this leaves the Nets as full of deep league options, but lacking difference makers in 12 team leagues.
DRAFT WITH CONFIDENCE
DeAngelo Russell – the Nets will look to feature the player who will undoubtedly be the face of the franchise. Russell struggled to find a position with the Lakers last season between the 1 and the 2, but gave an indication of the type of player that he could be when given extended minutes towards the end of last season. While the extra minutes in a fast-paced system seem tempting, Russell’s PIE declined the more minutes that he played and therefore I don’t see a quantum leap forward in the new system. How he meshes in the same backcourt with Jeremy Lin remains to be seen given that the two are similar types of players.
Projection: 18 PPG, 5 RPG, 4.5 APG
POTENTIAL LATE ROUND PICKS
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – RHJ received much ink prior to last season and was a trendy sleeper pick, He showed enough potential at times that he made drop/add list on numerous occasions – added one week to be dropped the next. The issues are two-fold; shooting woes and Kenny Atkinson’s refusal to give him more than 23 minutes per night. His per/36 averages would make him a multi-category contributor (13.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG) with block and steal contributions as well, but without an outside shot and the size to bang in the paint, he likely won’t get there
Projection: 10 PPG, 6 RPG, 3 APG, 1 BPG, 1.5 SPG
Jeremy Lin – the big question hanging over the Nets is the co-existence between Lin and Russell since both play the same role. Linsanity spent much of the year on the shelf, but when healthy, Lin filled up the boxscore with 14.5 PPG, 5.1 APG and 3.8 RPG. And all of this was accomplished playing only 24.5 minutes per game. Unfortunately, with the presence of Russell as well as additional backcourt mouths to feed in Sean Kilpatrick and Alan Crabbe, I do not see Lin’s minutes increasing to the point to make him anything better than a late round flyer. Lin put up great numbers when given extensive playing time at the end of last season, but the question remains whether he will get that playing time this year.
Projection: 16 PPG, 4 RPG, 5 APG
Trevor Booker – another one of Brooklyn’s 24 minute wonders who averaged 10 PPG and 8 RPG in limited minutes. In Brooklyn’s system with their proclivity for missed shots, the rebounds are there to be had. Plus, with Lopez and Hamilton gone, the Nets are thinner in the frontcourt with potential additional opportunity for Booker. Last year, Booker had the highest DREB% of his career, but that also was a product of Brook Lopez’s allergies to contact under the basket. Still, Booker has the potential to come close to averaging a double double with some steals thrown in too.
Projection: 12 PPG, 9 RPG, 1 SPG
Caris Levert – Levert arrived in Brooklyn last season coming off a four-year career at Michigan where he averaged 16.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG in his senior season. Levert missed much of the early part of the season to injury. Levert brings upside, but also the question marks of where he fits on the court as he has the body of a 2, but averaged only 32.1% from 3-pt range. His efficiency and usage (12.3 PER; 16.7 USG) also don’t point to large fantasy contributions, but his ability to hit the midrange jumper (54.5% from 10-14 feet) and his status as one of the few Nets with future upside could get him the minutes to make an impact.