I know this is far from the consensus opinion around the league, but I can foresee a world in which things go incredibly right for the Brooklyn Nets and they end up fighting for a playoff spot. Realistically, this team doesn’t have a great chance to make the playoffs — ESPN’s most recent forecast has them finishing 10th in the East with a 32-50 record, an improvement over last season but still back of the 38 wins that they have the eight seed pegged at. But it’s possible! And you’ll be reading a lot of content here at Nets Republic about how the players can continue their development and the new additions will help drive the team to improve.
But just to drop a cloud of pessimism into your lives, let’s talk about how things could, umm, not go so right for the Nets. I’ll be presenting a non-injury worst case scenario for each player. If even just a couple of these come true, we might be in for a long season of Brooklyn Nets watching.
As will be the tune fairly often in this piece when talking about a team with as many young pieces as Brooklyn has, the answer is development. In his 31 starts last season, Allen averaged 10.5 points and 6.4 boards per game along with 1.7 blocks. His raw potential is great, but Allen can struggle on the boards against bigger defenders and there’s also the expectation that another year with Kenny Atkinson will yield continued improvement in Allen’s jump shooting.
What if it doesn’t, though? And what if those rebounding woes continue? You can survive if Allen doesn’t become a knock-down shooter, but you’ll struggle to win many games if the Brooklyn Nets continue to be actively worse on the boards when he’s on the court.
Hollis-Jefferson brings some solid defense to the table, but on the offensive end there are still a lot of questions. It’s probably time to give up on RHJ developing a three-point shot even though he takes nearly a shot a game while shooting in the mid-20% range. He has a decent mid-range game and the move to the four spot has helped him take advantage of slower players, but what if this is it for Hollis-Jefferson?
Sure, he’s just entering his age-24 season and there should be room for growth, but what if there are limitations that he can’t overcome?
What if a 31-year-old Carroll putting up career-highs in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game ends up being a little bit of an illusion?
I’m not sure what the plan with Carroll is, but his age and the fact that he’s in the final year of his contract suggests to me that the Brooklyn Nets would be smart to trade him. The worst thing that can happen with Carroll might be a poor performance over the first half of the season — numbers more in line with his 2016-2017 numbers — leading to a decrease in trade value at the deadline.
Considering seven of Crabbe’s 11 field goal attempts per game last season came from three-point range, it’s clear that Crabbe’s shooting is the main thing he brings to Brooklyn. Last year, Brooklyn’s luck-adjusted offensive rating with Crabbe on the court was +2.6 compared to when he was off the court, but the team’s luck-adjusted defensive rating was 1.3 points worse with Crabbe on the court.
If Crabbe’s shooting numbers dip and he’s no longer as much of an offensive positive, where does that leave Brooklyn? (Honestly, this is one of the worst case scenarios I’m least worried about. Crabbe can shoot.)
What if the 36.4% mark from three that Russell shot from deep in March and April ends up not being indicative of improvement from there and he winds up closer to the 28.3% he shot before March? What if the defensive skills that he possesses don’t end up amounting to anything tangible? What if he can’t cut down on the turnovers?
A lot of LeVert’s potential on the defensive side is still that: potential. LeVert has all the tools to be a disruptive force on that end, but he still has to put all that potential together. Meanwhile, LeVert’s presence on the court cause Brooklyn’s luck-adjusted offensive rating to drop 3.9 points, which is…yikes. You’ll have to hope he can be more effective on that end as well.
LeVert is the player I’m most excited about on this team, but he’s also the player whose development feels the most tenuous.
The other guy who’s likely to be traded. Dinwiddie was a revelation last season, one of the best passers in the league when it came to his assist-to-turnover ratio. His jump shooting still needs work, but the biggest concern I’ve got is that the addition of Shabazz Napier and the possibility of Caris LeVert spending some time at the point could lead to a drop in Dinwiddie’s counting stats. That could hurt his trade value.
Sure, Nets fans love Dinwiddie, but the best thing for this team’s future would be to move him for draft capital.
In his profile of Joe Harris, Noah Torr pointed out that while Harris shot threes at an elite level from the top of the key, he shot just 25.7% from the right corner. Failing to improve there seems like it would be a bad thing for Harris and for the Brooklyn Nets.
I honestly don’t know what a non-injury worst case scenario is for Ed Davis. He doesn’t score much, but he brings rebounding to a team in need of it. Maybe the worst case scenario is that Kenny Atkinson puts him in the wrong lineups? Don’t try to make a Davis/Faried front court ever be a thing.
Love Napier’s shooting and he did really well as a spot-up shooter last year, but if he’s playing off the ball with someone like D’Angelo Russell at the point, is that duo going to be a sieve on the defensive end?
Faried just needs to be all energy off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets and I can’t foresee a situation where he isn’t all energy, but too much Faried has the potential to limit Brooklyn’s upside on offense and defense. The worst-case scenario for Faried is that he ends up playing too many minutes.
I know Nick is high on Graham and his reasoning makes a lot of sense, but my big concern here is that I don’t know what Graham does aside from shoot the basketball. Can he be a multi-dimensional player? I hope so, but the worst case scenario is that he’s just a guy who can spot up.
As I wrote last week, Dudley’s main value on the Brooklyn Nets would be as a stretch four who can knock down corner threes at an elite rate. But despite shooting 47.1% from the corner last season, two things worry me about Dudley’s shooting. First, his shooting percentage from the corner during the 2016-2017 season was just 22.5%, while his overall three-point shooting last season was his lowest mark since his rookie season. If his shooting numbers go down, Dudley won’t be on the court this season for anything but garbage time.