The Brooklyn Nets have been an egalitarian club under coach Kenny Atkinson, with no player averaging 30 minutes per game over Atkinson’s first 2 seasons. How does this season’s rotation shape up?
The Brooklyn Nets were a busy team over the offseason and while general manager Sean Marks wasn’t able to add a star player to the roster, he dramatically upgraded the depth coach Kenny Atkinson will have available this season.
The Nets were 28-54 last season, an eight-game improvement over 2016-17, and are looking to take the next step up the rebuilding ladder by nosing themselves into the conversation for one of the last playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference.
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It took 43 victories for the Washington Wizards to claim the No. 8 seed last season, but the face of the East has changed dramatically with the departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cleveland figures to regress from its 50 wins of a season ago, but Brooklyn’s improvement will almost certainly have to come from within. Young players D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert have earned high praise during training camp and none of the new additions are needle movers.
But can internal development add 10-15 wins to last season’s total? That’s a tall order — almost always, those double-digit jumps from season to season can be attributed to adding star players rather than the slower process of young players maturing.
When attempting to assess the rotation, it’s worth remembering that Atkinson has used a deep rotation over his first two seasons in Brooklyn, with no player in either season averaging even 30 minutes per game.
Even before his knee injury last season, Russell was averaging only 27.7 minutes per game, so you can’t attribute his minutes allocation strictly to restrictions he faced upon his return from surgery.
DeMarre Carroll led the Nets with an average of 29.9 minutes per game, while Allen Crabbe played 29.3 minutes a night. Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson each averaged more than 28 and 11 players averaged at least 20 per game during their time with the Nets.
Of the projected starters, it is Carroll whose playing time might be the most precarious with the emergence of LeVert as a much-improved player during training camp. That’s a situation worth watching.
So how will the rotation shake out? That question will ultimately be Atkinson’s to answer, but here are some projections.