This next season for the Brooklyn Nets marks a very special, inaugural chapter for this franchise. With their last NBA Finals appearance dating all the way back to the 2002-03 season, the Nets have been longing not only for a chance to reach the NBA Finals once again but to finally get the chance to win their very first NBA title. Since 2003, the Nets have embarked on an up and down, rollercoaster ride of success, clinching a playoff berth in 9 of their last 17 seasons but repeatedly coming up short, be it in the semifinals or in the 1st round. As was expected at some point in time, desperation and hunger reached its climaxing point and the Nets, in a blink of an eye, sealed two of the biggest superstars this game has seen in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
After being a mere 8th or 7th seeded team at best, the Nets all of a sudden have transformed into a title contender in the Eastern Conference along with the Bucks, the Celtics, the Heat, and the Raptors. With tough injuries causing a season-long setback for their newly acquired superstars, the time has finally come on December 22nd for Durant and Irving to combine their talents and prove to Nets fans why the wait and investment was well worth it.
But on top of all of this, the Nets also chose to hire a new head coach to guide this new superstar team, selecting none other than the former MVP point guard Steve Nash. His impact and influence will certainly make for an intriguing sight to behold, considering how wise and knowledgeable he is. But with no experience as a head coach and joining a brand-new team of players he’s yet to work with, presents a challenge that bears a lot of uncertainty. At the root of this insecurity lies one major factor: It’s easy enough to insert Durant and Irving into your starting lineup and call it a day. But the ultimate test for Nash is who he decides to start around these two superstars that will complement their style of play in order for this team to succeed. And with less than a week away before the season starts, Nash will have to decide which starting five grants the Nets the best chance to go the distance. Without further ado, here’s the best starting five the Brooklyn Nets should stick with this season:
Point Guard – Kyrie Irving: Although Spencer Dinwiddie really highlighted just how special and good of a fit he is for this team, you’re simply not going to drop over $30 million on a player just to have him come off the bench. In other words, Kyrie was brought in for a reason as he is one of the most gifted offensive talents in this league and brings an array of invaluable skills that are hard to come by. The only concern for Kyrie really comes down to his ability to spread the wealth and orient his decision making around winning games, not dropping 50 points in each of them. Essentially, Kyrie needs to prove that he can be unselfish and realize that in order to run the best version of this offense, he needs to embrace the talent he has around him and execute the best plays the team needs to make in order to win games. Besides that, Irving is most certainly a lock for the starting point guard position and deservedly so.
Shooting Guard – Joe Harris: ESPN has Joe Harris starting at the three for their depth chart, presenting a small ball lineup that, frankly, is not designed to succeed down the stretch. If you want to win, it’s wise to start Harris at shooting guard, and for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Harris is a remarkable three-point shooter and a strong perimeter defender, a role that fits best for the guard position. Secondly, with two monstrous scorers in the starting lineup already, there’s no need to cause ball sharing problems by inserting another scoring oriented player in Caris LeVert. In any sport, it’s vital that you cater players to their strengths, not to their weaknesses. And asking LeVert to limit his scoring and essentially his best skill by having him start is unwise. Ultimately, the difference between starting Harris over LeVert, is that Harris compliments the superstar players he has around him very well, whereas LeVert does not. Finding the right mold and balance for a team is a must when aiming for a Finals appearance, and Harris brings just that at the shooting guard position.
Small Forward – Kevin Durant: This is pretty straightforward and clear cut. He’s the best scorer, can virtually attack a defense from anywhere on the floor, and is a very strong defender both inside and out. ESPN has him starting at the four, which can work for some teams the Nets face this year. But it’s best if Durant starts at the position he’s owned since day one. Although they’re very different players, starting Kevin Durant at the four is kind of like starting LeBron James at the four. You can do it, but considering what kind of players these superstars are, they need the full range of the floor and complete access of their skillset to be able to dictate the pace and win games. It’s of vital importance to refrain from stifling Durant’s play, and the best way to do that is to play a bigger lineup and have him start at the three.
Power Forward – Reggie Perry: As crazy as it sounds, Reggie Perry is the best fit for the starting power forward role on this team. This rookie out of Mississippi State was not only made for his position but, simply put, was built for the NBA. To give you an idea of how dominant he was in college, Perry averaged a double-double and then some in his final season with Mississippi State. Putting up 17.4 ppg, along with 10.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, and over a block per game, Perry also shot 50% from the field and over 32% from the 3-point line. The Nets needed another big man to not only help Jarrett Allen in the paint with rebounding and interior defense but also desperately required a boost of inside scoring as well, and Perry fills both of those voids. Even if Nash only chooses to play him for 20-25 minutes per game, his style of play really complements his new teammates and if you need more convincing, just take a look at his first preseason game against the Wizards; Perry had 5 points, 7 rebounds and a block in only 16 minutes (ESPN). The only concern with Perry is lack of experience. But even then, for someone as athletically versatile as he is, Perry should be the Nets’ starting power forward.
Center – Jarrett Allen: For those of you thinking it should be DeAndre Jordan, please think again. The Fro Show is entering his fourth season with the Nets and, at the age of 22, is just beginning to enter his prime (ESPN). Along with the fact that he’s been the anchor of their interior defense and rebounding over the last two seasons, Allen’s chemistry, growth, and role with this team is simply irreplaceable. Think about it this way: Considering the Nets operated a small ball lineup where Allen was frequently isolated in the paint, taking all the big man attention whilst doing so, he somehow still managed to get better at rebounding and scoring. Posting his best numbers to date last season, Allen averaged 11.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and shot a stellar 65% from the field (ESPN). And now, with the arrival of Perry and Durant, Allen is only going to get more space down below, which will enable him to come into his own and seize his full potential. At the end of it all, Allen does all the little things you need from a big man. And for a team that’s filled with scorers and guards, he makes for a near-perfect fit as the Nets’ starting center.