The underrated aspect of the Brooklyn Nets’ offseason this year is what they have done to improve their bench. Sure, the starting lineup boasts 5 former all-stars and 2 former NBA champions, but Brooklyn’s bench could determine whether the Nets are just a playoff team or if they can make a run to a championship.
The five key bench players for the Nets will probably be Shaun Livingston, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche. Even though Livingston and Evans will be important players for this team, don’t expect either to be the first player in off the bench.
Instead, we’ll look at the other 3 players to determine who should be the first player to come into the game.
Terry is a former 6th man of the year winner in Dallas, where he also won a championship. In his prime, he was able to score and shoot with anybody and his biggest weapon may be his high level of confidence. However, Terry had the worst season of his career last year and is clearly getting old. He may be asked to hit some clutch shots later in games this year, but I’m not sure he is the 6th best player on this team.
Blatche should be the first big man to come off the bench, ahead of Reggie Evans. He was among the NBA leaders in PER last season and is a very good scorer, rebounder, and passer for a guy his size. He will be very valuable to Brooklyn because if Kevin Garnett or Brook Lopez gets into foul trouble early, ‘Dray can come into the game and fill in well. However, neither Lopez nor Garnett have been foul-prone during their careers, so don’t expect Blatche to enter because of foul trouble too often. Also, most teams don’t have a center as their 6th man.
Kirilenko should be the Nets’ 6th man. He is a long-time NBA starter and has played extensively with Deron Williams, the captain of Brooklyn’s offense. Expect the two to be in the floor together a lot. Kirilenko also fits this role very well because he can play both forward positions and possible even shooting guard if the Nets want to run a very large lineup. He is that talented, and he can also guard just about any sized player on the court. After playing over 30 minutes per game last season, Kirilenko probably won’t average more than 25 this season, keeping him fresh for the playoffs.