Brooklyn Nets Offseason: With camp roster nearly set, a lot of questions about Nets strengths, weaknesses
It’s still too early for a season preview, but Alex Schiffer offers one on training camp now just days away. In it, The Athletic writer offers a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the current camp roster: the strength at the wings, the uncertainty at the point and the paucity of bodies at the 5 which he notes will force Steve Nash and staff to get creative.
There could be some late adds — a couple training camp invites are still out there — and you never know what an aggressive Sean Marks will do on the trade front but barring a major move, the camp roster looks set. After a long and trying summer, the 2022-23 Brooklyn Nets are finally gearing up and getting ready.
No surprise, but Schiffer sees the Nets wings as the team’s strength, starting with Kevin Durant and including three of the game’s most lethal shooters in Joe Harris, Seth Curry and Patty Mills, all with 40+ career shooting percentages, along with a veteran presence and a couple of low-risk, high-reward additions:
Now Harris returns along with Mills and Curry to form one of the league’s most devastating shooting trios. And that’s a supplement to Durant, Irving and Simmons. Meanwhile, O’Neale gives the Nets a 3-and-D wing they sorely missed last season while Warren presents the chance to be Marks’ latest reinvention. Limited by foot injuries two of the past three seasons, Warren averaged around 20 points per game on 40 percent shooting from 3 in 2019-20. He has the potential to lead the reserves in scoring while providing Durant and Irving a break.
At the point, like a lot of fans, Schiffer wonders who is at the 1. Is it Ben Simmons or Kyrie Irving? And what about back-ups?
All indications are Simmons’ rehab from a microdiscectomy has gone smoothly, but until he’s back on the court, it’s hard to gauge how much of the All-NBA player from 2020 remains. At full strength, Nash can stagger Irving and Simmons with the reserves to keep the offense afloat and have a primary ballhandler.
Mills and Curry are listed here because they’re built like guards, even though they’ll likely spend most of their minutes playing off the ball on the perimeter hunting 3s. But Nash had both run point at times last season, given the constant fluctuation of depth there, to mixed results…
They could fill in if necessary, but would Nash prefer to give the reins to (Alondes) Williams or (Chris) Chiozza, both of whom are natural floor generals?
The center position is, as every Nets fan knows, the big question with only two natural centers in Nic Claxton (age 23) and Day’ron Sharpe (20) on the roster. But, as Schiffer notes, there are some intriguing possibilities considering that there are two 6’11” players with 7-foot plus wingspans who can be utilized in a variety of ways. Not to mention Markieff Morris, who is at this point, a camp invite.
Two things can be true; center is the Nets’ thinnest position but could also emerge as one of their best. Nash can get creative here. Does Simmons spend some time down low? Couple his passing and playmaking with the shooters on the roster, and the Nets could be lethally offensively with Simmons creating out of the post. Durant has been effective as a center throughout his career and is the best rim protector on the current roster.
Schiffer also sees some intriguing potential in Claxton on offense. Nash has said that Claxton’s role is as a defender, but now in his fourth year with a new contract and apparently some new seriousness, might we see more from him?
At Georgia, Claxton was a 6-foot-11 point guard for Tom Crean and ran a lot of sets where he got downhill on high ball screens. That hasn’t been part of his NBA profile so far, but could that change? Either way, he’s been one of Brooklyn’s best defenders on a team that lacks them.
Schiffer also muses about a big addition:
A possibility to upgrade the frontcourt lies in veteran free agent Dwight Howard. Now 36, Howard wanted to be a Net nearly 10 years ago, when he wanted out of Orlando and the franchise was moving to Brooklyn. He’s been serviceable as a reserve center the past few seasons and knows Nash from their time together as Lakers. If the Nets want more experience in the paint, Howard might be their best option.
By our count and it is our count, that would be Dwightmare VIII.
Bottom line is that the Nets go into camp relatively healthy assuming Simmons is now going 5-on-5 by next week and there’s no yet-to-be-disclosed problems. The big issues relate to chemistry and how KD, Kyrie and their off-season sagas affect things. It all starts Monday at 11:00 am on YES Network or if you can’t wait, there’s Ben Simmons with JJ Reddick and Tommy Alter on the Old Man and The Three podcast Thursday.