he Nets newly hired shooting coach David Nurse sure has his work cut out for him. Nurse is coming in with the job of helping the middle-of -the-pack Nets establish a better shooting presence on the floor.
Middle-of-the-pack, you say? Really.
Overall, Brooklyn is shooting a little better than 44 percent from the floor this season, good for 15th in the NBA. That's middle of the pack, but when you zoom out, you can see what is wrong with this team: the three-point shot. The team is hitting on just over 32% of their three-point attempts, the second to last mark in the league, leading only the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nurse isn't going to be able to take this team from 29th in the league to first, but he can definitely help the issue. Nurse is a renowned shooting coach in the league who has worked with three-point shooters such as C.J. Watson as well as the raw yet talented Aaron Gordon, who hopes to gain a consistent shot as his career progress.
As for the Nets, who can the team's newest coach help? Two names stand out right away.
It obviously all starts with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The injured rookie has a broken shot to say the least. Cocking his elbow inwards and clearly hesitant to pull the trigger when he is left open, RHJ apparently doesn't like jumpers, taking only 21 shots this season from outside of 10 feet, according to Basketball-Reference.
If Brooklyn wants RHJ to be an integral part of their future (which he most certainly is), he is going to need to develop at least a mid-range game in order to be a threat on the offensive end. Jefferson's quick dribble and incredible length give him the tools to be a sound jump shooter but his form is awkward and defenders give him a lot of space to take jump shots. This should be the focal point of RHJ's offseason training regime.
RHJ has to be he prime target for Nurse's teachings but there are other players on Brooklyn who can use help, one in particular. That would be Markel Brown.
Brown has struggled to keep himself in Brooklyn's rotation over his first two years in the league and while there are several issues with the Oklahoma State product's game, shooting is the main one. Brown can't shoot the three ball at all, hitting at a 21% clip, and is not a great even when he takes a step in.
The scouting report must be fairly simple for Brown: don't guard him when he is along the perimeter. And while Brown may have the athletic abilities that many would cherish, Tony Brown can not feel confident rolling him out there if he can't hit jump shots as a two-guard. His form is inconsistent as can be seen from the video. First things first, find a form that's comfortable and works.
It is a bit weird that Brown has been this poor a shooter at the NBA level because he improved immensely as a college player and as a senior was a reliable and consistent jump shooter. Is the game too fast for him? I'm not sure, but if Nurse can get Brown back to his senior form at OSU days, Brown could become a more reliable option for the Nets.
Currently, there are four players on the Nets roster shooting above the team average of 32% -- Donald Sloan (27 attempts through 25 games), Shane Larkin, Joe Johnson, and Bojan Bogdanovic. The Nets simply lack viable jump shooters with the roster in place now.
One player who should be shooting better, and could be around for a little while longer, is Sergey Karasev.
Karasev has had flashes of potential in his year and change with the Nets, but he has not been able to be consistent (or healthy) enough to warrant a spot in the rotation. If the Russian wing could refine his jump shot, though, he has the size and pure talent for more minutes.
It must be noted that Karasev has only played 121 minutes this season so the sample is small for this year, but nearly 44% of his shots come from beyond the arc for his career. If one is to be shooting that many of his shots from out there, he's got to be hitting them. Karasev does have a quick release which is a great starting point (something the aforementioned two really don't have). So Nurse has a good starting point to work with him, but Karasev can't continue to struggle from beyond the arc as the Nets enter a new regime, one that may not want to keep him.
Nurse certainly won't hurt Brooklyn. The Nets are in desperate need of some shooting and Nurse has glowing reviews from people all over the league. Nurse is also coming to a team that has some younger players so, assuming he stays, he can develop them over the next few years ... and hopefully, watch their form improve.
Two other names to note, neither of whom has played a game in a Nets uniform.
One is Juan Pablo Vaulet, the Nets' 19-year-old stashed prospect in Argentina, who is shooting18.2% from beyond the arc this season after posting similar numbers last year. He has poor mechanics but with the right coaching he could become the talent that people in the Nets front office saw when they traded up to get him last June.
The other is Chris McCullough who seems to have a very good form, one honed during hours and hours and hours of shooting practice while he recovered from ACL surgery. McCullough's range may be an issue. If the Nets see him as a stretch 4, he'll have to hit the three-ball. He only took one during his short time at Syracuse ... and he made it.
As the Nets enter a new era, Nurse (or some other shooting specialist) figures to be around the practice facility and have an input on which players can put the ball in the hoop, which, after all, is ultimately the reason they play the game.