The Brooklyn Nets suffered a tough loss at the hands of the New York Knicks last Thursday night, losing by the final score of 94-82. While one bad performance shouldn’t be the cause of too much alarm, the continued unimpressive play of the bench stood out.
Last season, the Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs due to All-Star-caliber production from the point guard spot and a deep bench that helped jumpstart the offense whenever things got stagnant. This year, the point guard talent level has continued to remain high while the bench play has worsened.
Some regression was expected when the team lost valuable rotation players to free agency like Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll, Shabazz Napier, Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The signings of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were more than enough to justify letting the players mentioned above go.
Nonetheless, the loss to their NY rival showed that the Nets need to find a solid bench unit. The team currently ranks 25th in the NBA in bench points per game after finishing 2nd in that same statistic last year. Here are three quick ways that show how they’ve disappointed.
Young Players Faltering
The Nets entered this season with lots of young talent, and it was expected that they’d be able to provide a spark of energy off the bench. This included players such as Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson, and Nicolas Claxton.
However, Claxton has been out of the rotation and hasn’t produced enough in limited minutes. Musa and Pinson are both shooting below 35% from the field while averaging less than 5 points per game each.
With 52 games left to play, there’s still a high probability that one of the youngsters can break out of their slump and become a valuable contributor.
With continued solid if not uninspiring play, Jordan isn’t entirely living up to the 4-year, $40 million deal he signed in July. Despite respectable numbers of 8.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, Jordan seemingly picks and chooses when to exert his energy on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
It’s nonsensical to expect the 31-year old to play exactly like his rim-destroying days with the Los Angeles Clippers, but the drop-off in play has been uninspiring. Brooklyn is getting outscored by 6.7 points per 100 possessions with Jordan on the court, which is the worst mark of any Net that averages over 20 minutes per game.
Spencer Dinwiddie Breaking Out
Dinwiddie has continued to improve, taking the NBA world by storm as his dominant play should earn him a plethora of All-Star votes. While the 26-year old is becoming an offensive juggernaut as a starter, the Nets have lost their scoring punch off the bench.
It’s going to be interesting to see how head coach Kenny Atkinson dishes out minutes when Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert return. Dinwiddie could play alongside Irving, or he could return to the bench in a role reminiscent of the Clippers’ Lou Williams.
The Brooklyn Nets have an interesting problem with their bench, and they should look to figure things out early before it gets worse.