Let’s talk about the NBA without discussing Steph Curry or LeBron James. I know novel concept, right?
No instead we are going to talk about a certain New York team that has a bit of a foggy future. We are going to tackle the task of rebuilding the Nets.
The Nets are not an enviable team right now. They have a banged up starting five, just bought out their best players’ contract and have no draft picks until the next we have to deal with presidential campaigns again. In short, they don’t have a lot to work with.
You have to start somewhere though and the best way would be with drafting smart. Only issue is, Brooklyn can’t even do that. Remember that trade they swung a couple years back to get Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett from Boston? Well the Nets are paying for that now. As I mentioned before, the Nets don’t have control of their own draft pick until 2019. They will have one next year, but it will likely be the Celtics’ pick after Boston opts to swap.
So the next plan would be to build a roster that can be blown up at any time. That way if the young talent starts to come through, Brooklyn can start building in earnest whenever they want. For right now though, the Nets just need to weather the storm and prepare for the future.
Brooklyn made a couple of savvy moves during the draft last year to bring in raw, high-ceiling rookies in Markel Brown, Chris McCullough, Sergey Karasav and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. None of them were ready to contribute much at the NBA level this year, but all have the potential to be decent pieces down the road. For right now, that is the future core of the Nets’ roster. All of these guys have potential and if Brooklyn is patient enough they could develop into a good group to work with.
They took out a couple of flyers on Thomas Robinson and Shane McClellan as well. Unfortunately, the Nets only have two players that should be starting on NBA teams right now. Brook Lopez is doing everything he can to keep this team afloat and Thaddeus Young has put together a solid season. Injuries haven’t helped, as Jarrett Jack was lost for the season relatively early on.
With Joe Johnson officially coming off the books during the summer, Brooklyn will have a ton of money to spend. The challenge will be putting together a pitch for prospective players to join the team. They have don’t have much to sell free agents on and likely won’t be a playoff team for the foreseeable future.
Ideally, the Nets would go out and splash some cash to bring in Kevin Durant, Mike Conley or Bradley Beal. But since that isn’t likely to happen, here is who they could nab instead.
During the 2016 offseason, the Nets need to find themselves a point guard. Donald Sloan is not cutting it and he will be a free agent after the year is done anyway. Brandon Jennings and Aaron Brooks are set to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Either one of them would be a significant upgrade. Even with Jack returning, he will be coming off a major knee injury and there is no telling how he will bounce back.
Then Brooklyn needs to address the issue of not having a solid-scoring wing who can act also as a perimeter defender. The Nets score the second fewest points per game in the league right now, only ahead of the Sixers. They also rank 28th in opponents’ field goal percentage. Bojan Bogdanovic is not the long term answer. This one is a bit trickier as there aren’t too many great options that the Nets could realistically sign. Luol Deng might jump at some money if the Nets are willing to throw it his way.
This way, the Nets can at least be semi-competitive in 2016-2017. A starting lineup of Jennings, Wayne Ellington, Deng, Young and Brooks would be a lot better than what they have now. And keep in mind, the Nets have nothing to tank for without control of their own draft pick.
Overall, Brooklyn can only hope to keep fans interested and build through free agency for the time being. They are all but tapped out in terms of resources to trade for draft picks. They do not have the means to build through the draft. They just have to hang on to the young talent they have and continue to bring in unproven players with the potential to develop. One day they will have a chance to rebuild, but until then, they have to suffer through a few seasons of below-average ball.