Brooklyn Nets: What does David Nwaba bring to the team in 2019?

Brooklyn Nets sign David Nwaba.

On Sunday, Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets brass quietly added David Nwaba to the roster. With that signing, it seems the off-season is over for Marks as far as signings. The established 15 seem to be signed and Nwaba makes the cut last second, signing a two year deal with a team option in the second year.

This will be Nwaba’s fourth team in as many years. His first three years were spent with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, in that order. He had his career high against the Nets so I’m sure he is hoping to find a home in Brooklyn.

What Does He Bring?

David Nwaba, despite only being 6’4″, has built somewhat of a reputation as being a good defender. As far as defensive rating goes, last year the Brooklyn Nets were middle of the pack. Coach Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks definitely would like to change this.

Nwaba helps them step in the right direction of defense. His 7’0″ wingspan allows Nwaba to contest shots, get steals, and play the passing lanes. He also is a strong statured player who can get physical with his assignment. There isn’t a worry of him being overpowered by most players at his position. He will be able to hold his own and will be able to cover point guards as well as shooting guards. On occasion, we may see him guard some small forwards.

On offense, David Nwaba is an overall efficient scorer. Most of his shots come inside the arch, specifically in the paint. His first year in college, Nwaba shot 53% from the field his first year and 47% from the field throughout his three years.

Although these are good shooting percentages, Nwaba was putrid from beyond, shooting below 17% from out there. He didn’t venture out there too often which is the good thing, but when he did it wasn’t pretty. The same goes from his shooting at the foul line which was below 70% each of his three years.

In the NBA, Nwaba has been much improved from behind the arch, starting at a putrid  20% and now for his short career shooting around a half-way decent 33%. The problems from the line persist, but his touch at and around the rim hasn’t dissipated.

His first year in the league, albeit only a 20 game sample, he shot 58% from the floor. For his career total, he averages 49% from the floor. He uses that same 7’0″ wingspan that makes him a pesky defender to get high floaters up over the outstretched arms of opposing rim protectors and then to shoot over defenders smaller or who don’t jump with him.

Nwaba also has some bounce and hang time, which allows him to better change his shot while in the air. His powerful frame is good for drawing and absorbing contact that he historically has shown he finishes through. And lastly, as a player with a decent enough handle and passing ability, he could be one of the players who Kenny Atkinson allows to handle the rock in that third point guard role.

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Where Can He Improve?

So I brought this up just now, but the main things David probably needs to improve are his free throw shooting and catch and shoot ability. In about 22 minutes a game for his career, he averages a little more than two free throws a game. With his heavy attack the basket style and mentality, he’ll need to improve in that area of his game.

Not even being able to hit 69% of your free throws in college or the league as a guard is unacceptable and he should work to at least get it up to a respectable 75%. He’s already shown great improvement on his three balls and he should keep trending in that direction.

Most players who play under Kenny Atkinson have career years from beyond and with the Nets development staff, there shouldn’t be much worry that Nwaba will do just that. Improving both these things will help Nwaba stay on the floor in case he’s needed in big moments. Welcome to Brooklyn David! Work hard and ball out.

Brooklyn Nets: Free Agency Fun Part 1 – What about Andray Blatche?

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

Well, it’s the off-season. The Finals are a thing of the increasingly distant past, the NBA Draft is right on its heels, and every major player has pretty much left the free agency boards. Things are more or less set in stone with just a few loose ends needing to tied. So with this series, I’m going to just throw out some names that remain out there in the Free Agency Pool. I don’t truly believe that Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets brass are looking at these players, but these are players I wouldn’t mind the organization taking a chance on.

So let me get this player out the way quick, fast, and in a hurry. I would love it if Andray Blatche found his way back to Brooklyn, New York. The native-born New Yorker had his ups and downs throughout his career, but he easily had the best stretch of his career in Brooklyn, which has become somewhat of a place to resurrect your career.

You can ask D’Angelo Russell, who is gone, but not forgotten. During his tenure in Brooklyn, Blatche basically averaged 11 PPG and 5 RPG in the 20 minutes of play he was given a game. Blatche loved Brooklyn and became a fan favorite of sorts. He even wished to be brought back, but management seemed to want to go in a different direction.

What would make Andray Blatche such a key addition? Similar things to why he was a good role-playing piece with the Nets from 2012-2014. Blatche isn’t one of those bigs who can kind of dribble and then get the moniker of being able to handle the rock. He legit looks like he has the ball on a string. Plenty of times he’s used a wide array of crossovers, behind the back moves, step backs, in and out, and whatever else that was in his arsenal to create open space and attack the basket.

He’s a highly skilled big man off the dribble and is a capable passer. His time spent in the NBA wasn’t a great one from beyond the arch, but Blatche is more than capable from mid-range. His handle was good enough to shift bigs out of position and get to the rack while he had the size to still be effective in the post.

Blatche fits one of Brooklyn’s two needs. That being a legitimate power forward. While we have players who can play the 4 (Wilson Chandler, Kurucs, Nic Claxton, and maybe Prince), Blatche brings size to fit both the 4 and 5 without worrying about giving up size, weight, or experience at the position.

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Blatche also brings another veteran scoring option off the bench who can be a mentor to the youth, specifically Nic Claxton. Claxton was a point guard until he had a growth spurt and aspired to be like Kevin Durant. So with a similar skill set as Claxton, Blatche can teach the youth how to better utilize his skills along with possibly showing him a few of his own tricks.

And lastly, Blatche is a goofy (and I mean this in the most respectful way possible), fun loving guy. He’s a great energy guy and that is why he was a fan favorite. He’d fit right in with Brooklyn’s fun-loving, energetic, dance-crazed bench. Him, DeAndre Jordan, and Theo Pinson would all bring laughs, smiles, and positive energy to this team.

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That’s one thing I’d love to have, our bench from 2013-14 and 2018-19 together. Nothing, but pure energy. So although Andray Blatche is probably content to finish out his career overseas and the Brooklyn Nets probably don’t have him on the radar, I for one would love to see him back in black.

How will Kevin Durant play into the Brooklyn Nets plans in 2019?

Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson

If there’s anything the Brooklyn Nets can guarantee, it’s that they’re not sure whether superstar signing Kevin Durant will play during the 2019 season. The question is — how will he influence the team from the sideline?

On an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, Kenny Atkinson stated “It’s way too early” to tell when Durant will return. The evaluation process is still in progress and a timetable for a potential return is not yet set.

However, the New York Nets’ head coach commented on the role Durant will play next season:

“I know I need his basketball acumen around and his leadership. First and foremost is his rehab and getting that right. We are going to use him. We might have to give him an assistant coach’s salary.”

“You need to use guys like that. We’re going to need his leadership this year. I know I have talked to him about it. He’s excited about that. We have already started our conversations.”

With some younger players still looking to break out and make a bigger impact, Durant is the perfect mentor and leader to help them reach their potential and make the most out of the boat-load of money Brooklyn dropped on Kevin and Kyrie Irving.

Using Durant once he returns has Atkinson staying up at night:

”I have a ton of things in my mind how we can use Kevin to his best abilities. He can play all five positions. When Kyrie is out, you can play him at the point. He’s maybe the best wing scorer, him and LeBron, in our era. It’s going to be exciting to try and fit him in into these different spots and use him as well as we can…”

Convincing one of the best basketball players of all time to skip over the New York Knicks and come to a smaller team in Brooklyn is the male version of the “Notebook.” While sitting out injured is unfortunate, his return will be something special for an organization preparing to take the leap to big brother.

New York Knicks could swipe D’Angelo Russell from Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets, D'Angelo Russell

With the Brooklyn Nets suddenly entering the conversation for star point guard Kyrie Irving and his elusive skill-set, the New York Knicks could contend for D’Angelo Russell in free agency.

Russell, who finally came into himself in his fourth season as a professional, proved the LA Lakers wrong with an All-Star performance in 2018. The Nets enjoyed his progression, as he averaged 21.1 points-per-game (basketball-reference), leading an unexpected team to the playoffs, despite falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

At this point in time, it seems as if the Nets have surpassed the Knicks in terms of potential and success. However, the Knicks, ran by Scott Perry, could be a suitable destination for the Nets point guard if they do, in fact, go after Irving.

Russell has been rumored to stay with the Nets as of late, as his image and pride has forced him to make a difficult decision. The Knicks might be the only team that could pry him away, allowing him to stay in New York and compete on the biggest stage.

With $73 million in cap space, the Knicks will have plenty of cash to splash on the dynamic point guard, and if Kevin Durant is set on bringing his talents to the Mecca, it might convince D’Angelo to take his talents up the street.

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Other option still remains on the table for the New York Knicks:

If the Knicks strike out on Irving, Kemba Walker, and Russell, they could still elect to trade the farm in favor of Anthony Davis and still bring in Durant. They would take up just about all of their available cap space and they would lose a majority of their youth talent. However, the starting team would be instant playoff caliber.

In addition, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, and more, will all be on the open market. The Knicks simply couldn’t have picked a better time to open up the flood gates with cap space.

 

Will the New York Knicks lose out in free agency to the Brooklyn Nets?

New York Knicks

The rumor mill is one of the most volatile things during the offseason. One week, every player is going to the New York Knicks, the next, they’re going to the Brooklyn Nets. It’s a wild media-driven ride that will include fake news and some real sprinkled in-between. Ultimately, we won’t officially know anything until a player is signed, but as of late, the free agent stars of the NBA have seemingly lost interest in the Knicks.

It’s hard to believe the Nets are the team to join this offseason, but they’re a playoff caliber team that just opened up a boat-load of cap space to go out and pursue big-time players.

Kevin Durant is still rumored to favor the Knicks, but options like Kyrie Irving, who was spotted in Manhattan last week, are seriously considering the Nets instead.

It all comes down to management and the front office, something the Nets have improved significantly over the past few seasons. The Knicks, however, are an ever-turning Ferris wheel of disaster. Phil Jackson, thought to be the savior of the franchise, plummeted the team into a state of despair.

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Now, the team is built on youth and will have a top 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The obvious pick would be RJ Barrett, a very talented player that averaged more than 26 points per game in his lone college season with Duke. He played second fiddle to Zion Williamson, but on any other team, he would have been even more impressive.

The Knicks will likely elect to choose him, which will hopefully draw interest from some big players. Bringing in two stars – preferably Durant and a point guard would put the Knicks in a place to compete for a playoff spot. It’s just a matter of convincing players to come, which will be difficult considering the bad mojo the Knicks have forced upon players for quite some time.

It will be interesting to see how the free agency period plays out. The Nets could keep DeAngelo Russell and still sign Kyrie Irving, they have plenty of money to make a splash and they have a loyal fan-base ready to come out and support. They are a serious threat to the Knicks in FA.