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Brooklyn Nets Figuring Out Rotation After D'Angelo Russell's Return

Brooklyn is almost completely healthy, which is a boost for Kenny Atkinson

DETROIT – For the first time in several months, the Brooklyn Nets are almost completely healthy – a development that head coach Kenny Atkinson is obviously pleased with.

“[It’s a] big luxury, I think it will help with our consistency,” Atkinson said prior to Sunday’s win against the Pistons. “I think it’s more difficult when guys are in and out of the lineup. It’d be great for the rest of the season to establish a set rotation – guys know when they are coming in and when they are coming out.”

Still, Atkinson admits that will be some challenges ahead in regards to figuring out the right rotation. With D’Angelo Russell back into the fold after being sidelined for two months, the head coach acknowledged he is adjusting the way he uses his guards.

“It causes a logjam,” Atkinson explained. “Also, with D’Angelo building his minutes – he’s not at his peak minutes right now – that plays into guys in different spots. Once his builds his minutes, we’ll get more stability there. It’s a good problem to have.

“Depth is something we value.”

One positive byproduct of Russell’s return has been play of Spencer Dinwiddie in the fourth quarter. In the two games that Russell has played, Dinwiddie’s shooting percentages (60 percent) and points in the fourth quarter (averaging 9.5 points in the final 12 minutes) have spiked. Prior to the games against the Pistons and Heat, the point guard was actually in a slump – shooting just 20.9 percent against the Spurs, Knicks and Wizards. Although Russell has clearly been rusty in his first two games, his ability to run the point allows Atkinson to change when Dinwiddie is on the floor – saving the guard for long stretches in the fourth quarter.

Dinwiddie’s recent surge has seen him move into the top 10 in the NBA in total clutch points, points scored in the final five minutes, according to NBAminer.com. As for Russell, Atkinson has been cautious in bringing the guard back into the fold. The 21-year-old has been averaging 14 minutes per game in his first two games.

“It will incrementally go up,” Atkinson said.

The Nets’ rotation might still be a work-in-progress, but Atkinson insists that the adjustment period won’t be as significant as when Jeremy Lin was ruled out for the season in the first game of the 2017-18 campaign.

“Hopefully not weeks,” Atkinson said. “Knowing D’Angelo a bit and knowing our roster better as opposed to earlier in the season, I don’t think it will take as long [to adjust].”

He added, “Obviously, it will still be a learning curve, but it won’t take as long as earlier in the year.”

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