Predicting the Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineup
The Brooklyn Nets kicked off training camp this week at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. They are holding practice there for the entire week, giving second-year head coach Kenny Atkinson some time away from New York City in order to get his young team to bond.
The Nets return nine players from last season’s 20-win team. They acquired several veterans who are likely to command major minutes, so the biggest question here is, who starts for the team on opening night?
Jeremy Lin was signed last summer to be the team’s starting point guard, but the Nets shipped franchise center Brook Lopez to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for 21-year-old star D’Angelo Russell. Russell and Lin are the two best players on the roster right now, so Atkinson is going to have to wind up starting them both.
With Lin and Russell taking up two of the five spots, the focus now shifts to the wings. The Nets started Randy Foye and Caris LeVert at the shooting guard and small forward spots last season, but Foye is gone and veteran wings DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe have joined the team. In the era of position-less basketball, it’s becoming less about the position you play and more about versatility. The Nets are young, but they have plenty of interchangeable parts.
Theoretically, Crabbe can start at the three and Carroll can play the four if the Nets choose to go with a small ball lineup. LeVert is just 22-years-old, but he is viewed as an ascending player and needs to play as much as possible. LeVert could wind up coming off the bench to start the season, and could vault himself into the starting lineup if he plays well enough. His development and chemistry with Russell are instrumental for Brooklyn’s rebuilding process.
Atkinson also cannot discount forward Trevor Booker and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Booker was the starting power forward for much of last year, but gave way to Hollis-Jefferson in March. The Nets potentially view Rondae as the starting power forward of the future, so his development during the upcoming season will be crucial.
Timofey Mozgov, also acquired in the Lopez trade, should start at the center spot right away. Rookie Jarrett Allen is raw, and it will be a while until he is ready to play major minutes, let alone start for Brooklyn. Tyler Zeller will also provide minutes at the five if he makes the roster.
When it’s all said and done, Brooklyn’s starting lineup on October 18. against the Indiana Pacers could look like this:
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: D’Angelo Russell
SF: Allen Crabbe
PF: DeMarre Carroll
C: Timofey Mozgov
Regardless of who starts, expect LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson, Booker and Sean Kilpatrick to contribute to this team in some way shape or form.
It’s a long season, so expect Atkinson to play the guys who are bringing the most to the team. Four of the five players listed above are new to the Nets, so Atkinson will have to give minutes to his young core of players along with keeping the newly-acquired veterans happy. Remember, the Nets have no incentive to tank this season. They will scratch and claw for every win they can get.
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