Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: Newcomer Player Profiles
Irving, Durant, Jordan lead major offseason additions
With Kyrie Irving, Deandre Jordan and Taurean Prince, the Nets have added three significant rotation players, plus Kevin Durant, who is not expected to play this season.
WILSON CHANDLER • FORWARD • 6-8 • 235
LAST SEASON: 6.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 37.3 3PT%
After a long run in Denver, the veteran forward split last season between the Sixers and Clippers. A small forward in Denver, the 31-year-old was likely ticketed for the 4 spot with the Nets, based on the team’s style and roster makeup, part of a new mix there with Rodions Kurucs the only returner at the spot. Things are a little more uncertain now as Chandler has been suspended for the first 25 games of the season for PED usage. So he can’t return until mid-December at the earliest. Where he fits in then may depend largely on how the position has settled itself and whether there’s a need to fit him into the rotation or if the Nets are comfortable with the production they’re getting at that point.
NICOLAS CLAXTON • FORWARD/CENTER • 6-11 • 215
LAST SEASON (Georgia): 13.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.5 BPG
There’s no doubt the Nets grabbed a player that fits with the 31st pick in the June draft. All the ways coach Kenny Atkinson described Jarrett Allen two years ago as a “modern NBA center” — athletic, run the floor, defend the rim, pick and roll threat —apply here with Claxton. What does it mean this year for the 20-year-old? Remains to be seen. Recent Nets rookies Allen and Rodions Kurucs have played their way into roles faster than expected, but with Allen and the newly acquired DeAndre Jordan in the fold, there’s no immediate need at center. Is the unsettled 4 spot wide open enough for the rookie to break through? Atkinson gave Claxton work at both positions through the preseason and his raw talent seems to have made a strong impression on the coach, in addition to some splashy fourth-quarter minutes in preseason action in which his energy and athleticism were on full display.
KEVIN DURANT • FORWARD • 6-10 • 240
LAST SEASON: 26.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.9 APG
A free agent coup that comes with a caveat. The Nets will have to wait for Durant to make his Brooklyn debut as he recovers from an Achilles’ injury. Durant just may be the best basketball player in the world right now, with a career scoring average of 27.0 points per game and nine All-NBA selections. Will Durant play this year? It would seem unlikely. GM Sean Marks said in September that the team does not expect Durant to play in 2019-20. Whenever he is ready to go, this season or next, Durant will likely slide into Brooklyn’s 4 spot and elevate the team to the NBA’s elite.
HENRY ELLENSON • FORWARD/CENTER • 6-11 • 240
LAST SEASON: 6.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 44.7 3PT%
The Nets are taking a swing on this former first-round pick with a two-way contract. Selected 18th overall by the Pistons in 2016, Ellenson is still just 22. He split last season between the Pistons and Knicks. The unsettled 4 spot could offer some opportunity, but more likely Ellenson is in development mode; a fresh start with a new staff for a player who would be a rookie this season if he had stayed in college for four years.
KYRIE IRVING • GUARD • 6-2 • 195
LAST SEASON: 23.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.0 RPG, 40.1 3PT%
For all the noise around Irving last season, he earned his second All-NBA selection and went to the All-Star Game for the sixth time in seven years. In each of the last three seasons, he’s shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range on at least six attempts per game, the kind of high-volume, high-percentage deep shooting that can kick the production of Kenny Atkinson’s offensive system up a notch. He also shot at least 48 percent overall each of the last two seasons. Irving wasn’t a high-volume pick and roll ball-handler, but he was in the top 10 in the league in points per possession on those plays. Last season Irving excelled in big spots, ranking fourth in the NBA in clutch points with 4.3, shooting 49.6 percent in those situations, higher than the three players with higher averages. In short, Irving is one of the NBA’s premier shot-creators and shot-makers, and he’s coming off a season with a career-high 6.9 assists per game as well.
DEANDRE JORDAN • CENTER • 6-11 • 265
LAST SEASON: 11.0 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 61.4 FG%
For five years in a row, Jordan led the NBA in field goal percentage, while earning All-Defensive First Team nods in two of those years. That combination of production on both ends of the floor added up to three All-NBA selections. The now-31-year-old may not be at quite that level any longer, but he was still third in the league with 13.1 rebounds while shooting 61.4 percent last season splitting the year between the Mavericks and Knicks. The Nets got solid backup center play from Ed Davis last season, but Jordan offers starter-level-production, whether that designation ultimately goes to he or Jarrett Allen. Whether starting or coming off the bench, expect more than the 17 minutes per game last season that Davis got. The bigger, more experienced Jordan offers some different elements than the still-developing Allen.
DAVID NWABA • GUARD/FORWARD • 6-5 • 219
LAST SEASON: 6.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
A gritty guard who got his start in the G League, Nwaba was signed as a free agent after spending last season with Cleveland. He brings a defensive presence and depth to Brooklyn’s guard rotation as he enters his fourth full season in the NBA. Kenny Atkinson has even floated using Nwaba all the way down to the 4 spot, even though he’s listed at just 6-5.
TAUREAN PRINCE • FORWARD • 6-7 • 218
LAST SEASON: 13.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG
The Nets grabbed Prince as a return in the deal that sent Allen Crabbe’s contract and picks to Atlanta, and the 25-year-old seems like an ideal fit for the Brooklyn system. He resembles departed veteran DeMarre Carroll in size and skill set and will likely slide into a similar role moving between the two forward spots. The most consistent theme in Prince’s career, dating back to high school, is the ability to grow and improve his game. He started each of the last two seasons for the Hawks and shot 38.7 percent from 3-point range during that stretch. Prince took more than half his shots from 3-point range last season, shooting 39 percent from deep and 49.8 percent from 2-point range, including 64.7 percent in the restricted area.
GARRETT TEMPLE • GUARD/FORWARD • 6-5 • 195
LAST SEASON: 7.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.4 APG
Over his first three professional seasons, Temple played for five NBA teams and then went abroad for a year. Seven years later, he’s still in the NBA, joining the Nets after splitting last season between the Grizzlies and Clippers. That’s a grinder, a guy who has worked to develop his game and brought a quality presence to a locker room. Temple’s even made himself a semi-regular starter over the last seven seasons with the Wizards, Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers. He fits the profile of the solid veterans that GM Sean Marks has annually imported to fill out the roster with professional depth and will shore up the backcourt in that area after several departures there.
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