One of the most scrutinized positions for the Brooklyn Nets over the past few years has been the power forward. The players that have been legitimate power forwards over the years are few and far in between. This year it doesn’t seem we’ll be straying from that status quo. So the question becomes which players get time at the four.
When Kevin Durant returns I think we can expect him at the power forward position. Increasingly so. Coming off a major injury, most assume his defense in one of the aspects of his game that will take a hit. With this in mind, it makes sense to have him guard power forwards where he has to do less work as far as running around and chasing them on the perimeter. He’ll have to deal with being a post up or contesting stretch bigs, but it’s less likely that he’ll have to chase anyone and that should be less strain on his Achilles. This would be a great way to kind of hide any weaknesses he may still have upon his return. Durant has also played the four a lot in his career. As a pretty solid rim protector, the move to spend more time at the power forward will be nothing new to him.
Rodions Kurucs coming into his sophomore year will probably play a whole lot of power forward. During his rookie season, the move to the four is what really brought Kurucs to life and the team had lots of success with it. Although slight of frame, Kurucs was tough for a rook. He did a decent enough job defending the position. He has a solid handle where that, although out of control at times, he can take bigs off the dribble to attack the rim. He also shot the ball from distance well enough to be a decent enough threat to stretch the floor. Look to see Rodions Kurucs spend more time at power forward and really show growth from there.
The Brooklyn Nets new rookie Nicholas Claxton is another option at the four. He’s probably the closest thing to a natural power forward on this roster. At 6’11” with about a 7’3″ wingspan, Claxton has all the tools to be a good defender. That height and wingspan will be great as weapons towards protecting the rim. Claxton is a mobile big, allowing him to defend perimeter players for stretches if he is ever switched on to them. In college, Claxton has shown the potential to be a stretch big so time under Kenny Atkinson will probably do wonders for him. And let’s not forget that Claxton used to be a guard, much like Anthony Davis. He’ll be able to take bigs off the dribble a little and possibly lead breaks in some respect.
Wilson Chandler can and has played a lot of power forward in his time in the NBA. Especially towards his twilight years. As an elder statesmen, he’ll probably be better served as a four on defense. Chandler has solid strength to handle any banging in the post and can help stretch the floor as well.
Lastly, I give you the option of Taurean Prince. Excluding KD, he is easily the best shooter on this list of players. Shooting over 37% from 3 in his last two years, Prince will be a deadly floor stretcher. He’ll make defenses pay for trying to crowd the paint and create plenty of room for players such as Kyrie Irving. Just like many of his new teammates who will share responsibilities at the four, Prince can take slower bigs off the dribble. With a near 7ft wingspan, Prince could be pestering on the defensive end. I see a lot of analyst pegging Prince as our starting power forward. While KD is out, it’ll definitely be between him and Kurucs. The biggest concern with this rotation is the question of rebounding? Will we be ok with these guys on the boards. None of them are exactly known as great rebounders and that’s one of the areas the Nets suffered last year. Big teams like the 76ers crushed us on the boards. Those extra shots (and lack thereof) make it extremely hard to win games against tough matchups.