D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier have observed increased minutes with Spencer Dinwiddie out. (AP)
In the middle of their very best season of the Atkinson-Marks period, the Nets have been dealt a substantial blow: Spencer Dinwiddie underwent thumb surgery and is probably out until eventually mid-March.
Standing at 28-26 after Saturday’s decline to the Magic, the Nets are in a good location.. They at present hold the sixth seed in the Japanese Conference and have a 4 1/2 activity direct on a playoff location. They have absent 2-3 considering the fact that Dinwiddie was shelved, with two defeats coming from tough groups on the highway in Boston and San Antonio.
But with Caris LeVert also on the mend after his early-season damage, Brooklyn will have to hold collectively its backcourt right before reinforcements can get there. In the near term, it’s going to be on inner solutions to keep the group afloat when the squad pursues an ever-far more-realistic playoff location.
The agenda styles up well for a shorthanded Brooklyn about the future six months. The Nets will not depart the Japanese time zone once again until eventually March 13. They participate in some more durable opponents — such as the Bucks, Nuggets and Raptors right before the All-Star break — but they complement that with underneath .500 opponents like the Bulls, Hornets and Cavaliers. They participate in just one particular back again-to-back again, a tough flight to Miami after a dwelling activity March 1. On the other hand, both Dinwiddie or LeVert could return right before these video games get there.
Whilst the agenda lays out nicely, Kenny Atkinson however faces rotation thoughts. He has not had to change his beginning lineup, as Dinwiddie rolls off the bench, still closing lineups are altered. Atkinson’s hardly ever had a established closing 5 — he relies on whomever is carrying out that night — still Dinwiddie was a near-continuous, hitting clutch shots from the Pistons, Rockets and Hornets.
Some of that crunch-time stress will fall on recently-minted All-Star D’Angelo Russell. Whilst Dinwiddie was a Sixth Person of the 12 months prospect, Russell has been the focal stage of the group, particularly in the new 12 months. In 15 January video games, D-Lo averaged 30.6 minutes, scoring 23.8 details when notching 7.3 helps per activity. The stage guard uncovered a rhythm from 3-stage vary, hitting 41.3 p.c of his makes an attempt.
On the other hand, the group simply cannot find the money for a action backwards from Russell in the future few months. He sat at the end of video games previously this season in favor of Dinwiddie or LeVert, but there’s no one particular to match his effect proper now.
Shabazz Napier, nevertheless, eases the stress. He stayed on the ground with Russell at the end of the previous few video games and seemed the section. He can catch-and-shoot and develop for other individuals, all when taking part in a pesky manufacturer of defense. He’s been dollars considering the fact that returning to the rotation Dec. 28, averaging 14.1 details and 3.5 helps in just 22.7 minutes a night. For a bench guard, that’s cartoonish.
If the group wants volume capturing, Napier supplies that when requested. He’s put up at minimum 13 shots in each individual of the 5 video games Dinwiddie’s missed. He’s risen previously mentioned becoming the team’s 3rd stage guard and sticks out as a shrewd signing by Sean Marks this offseason.
With the relaxation of the roster mostly wholesome, Atkinson turned to far more minutes for Treveon Graham and Joe Harris. Alhough each individual can change down to the three in some lineups, Graham and Harris both equally in a natural way participate in the two and are at dwelling there.
Rookie Theo Pinson is the wild card on the roster. He had a breakout activity with 19 details from the moribund Knicks on Jan. 25. The North Carolina-grad dished out 6.8 helps per activity with Extended Island in the G-League. The 6-foot-6 two-guard is older than most rookies at 23 and has comported himself as such. On the other hand, taking part in on a two-way contract, Pinson’s times he can be with the Nets are constrained, and the group may want far more knowledge in their playoff chase.
If you might be searching exterior of the current rotation, there are two solutions for replacing Dinwiddie’s generation: LeVert or an acquisition. LeVert could come back again as early as this month after dislocating his ankle on Nov. 12, nevertheless there’s been no official timetable established for his return. The Nets will remain careful in his rehab, but he has been all around the group recently and has at minimum absent as a result of capturing drills.
The trade deadline is Feb. 8, giving the Nets only a handful of times to trade for an additional stage guard, one particular they should not be required over and above mid-March. Following shopping for out Kenneth Faried, they have only 14 certain contracts, so Brooklyn could also scour the buyout sector for a fast resolve.
For now, the Nets transform their lonely eyes past Joe DiMaggio and toward Russell, Napier and their current backcourt mates, who have stuffed the hole capably therefore considerably. Dinwiddie continues to be a key component to Brooklyn’s achievements, nevertheless the group has produced do with other accidents this season. With a smaller margin for mistake, they will merely have to locate a new recipe to success.