When fans are asked why the Nets struggled so much this season, many point to issues regarding the point guard position.But what's often overlooked is the frequent inconsistency at the shooting guard position, namely from Wayne Ellington and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic (11.2 points per game) showed signs of brilliance throughout the season, but struggled mightily on the defensive end and was seen as the poster boy of inconsistency. His signs of brilliance, which included a 44-point game, may show that he's most definitely an offensive threat in this league, but perhaps a sixth man, an energy type of player.
Of course, if Rondae Hollis-Jefferson improves his shot and maintains his health, maybe the need is reduced. But even RHJ is going to need some back-up. (Of course, Kenny Atkinson might want Hollis-Jefferson at the other swingman position not just because of his defense, but because of his rebounding prowess.) Maybe Markel Brown continues to improve, too. Not to mention Sean KilpatrIck, who is under contract.
Bottom line is that If they can find a worthy backcourt to work with the hefty frontcourt duo of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, this season might not be as bad as many think.
We've got less than two weeks until NBA Free Agency starts. What shooting guards are out there and will they fit in with the Nets?
1. DeMar DeRozan - Unrestricted - 6'7"
DeRozan will be one of the most coveted free agents this off-season and it isn't hard to understand why. The seven-year swingman has shown tremendous strides in his game since entering the league in 2009, averaging 23.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game this past season ... and showing leadership potential. He's one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA with his versatile offensive moves and eye-popping dunks that can electrify a crowd in the blink of an eye. He's likely to receive a max deal whether it be from the Raptors or someone else.
But there's reason for a little concern. DeRozan doesn't shoot the three ball at the most efficient rate (33.8 percent) and he was a bit inconsistent in the postseason where his numbers dropped a bit and his shooting percentage fell to 41 percent. Will this change how strongly teams pursue him? Probably not.
I'm sure Sean Marks and company would love to show him around their new practice facility. After all, he's used to Views.
2. Nicolas Batum -- Unrestricted - 6'8"
There may be no more well-rounded free agent swingman than Batum, who it should be noted, once pulled off the rarest of the rare boxscore lines: the 5x5, five or more points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He did that four years ago. But this past year, he was better, putting up great numbers in Charlotte. He averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, along with nearly a steal a game ... and shot 35 percent from three.
He is the Hornets top target to re-sign, but would the Frenchman enterain the notion of playing on the big stage? He's always played for two of the NBA's smallest market teams, the Hornets and Blazers. It could be part of a recruiting pitch.
3. Evan Fournier - Restricted - 6'6"
Fournier seems to fit the perfect script the Nets are trying to write. At 23 years old, he has plenty of time to grow with a rebuilding, yet hopefully competitive Brooklyn Nets team. Not to mention, he's a European prospect and as we've seen thus far, Sean Marks and company LOVE international brass and talent. The four-year player from France has shown evolution in his game after averaging 15.4 points on 51 percent shooting with an impressive three ball at 40 percent. Needless to say, he'd give them a much-needed perimeter threat that would open up for the floor for Lopez and Young.
If the Nets were able to nab a solid point guard and a guy such as Fournier, consider it a very successful offseason for Sean Marks. Of course, the Magic could match any offer ... but would they?
4. Bradley Beal - Restricted - 6'5"
After averaging 17.4 points this past season and 16.0 points over the course of his four-year career, there is no question whether Beal can be a legitimate All-Star in this league. His health, however, brings up the question whether he'll actually be an All-Star one day. He's missed 81 games over the last four seasons and will still cost teams top dollar to sign him. Washington has the money to spend on him, but it's uncertain whether they'll want to pursue after such a disappointing season.
If Beal does hit the market, it'd be a huge risk for the Nets and any other team looking to pursue. The potential is certainly there, but can he sustain his health through an 82-game season? He hasn't shown it... yet.
5. Dwyane Wade - Unrestricted - 6'4"
Wade is still doing Wade things even after 13 seasons in the league. This past season he averaged 19 points and led Miami into the second round despite the absence of Chris Bosh. It's essentially useless to discuss the possibility of him hitting the free agent market because he's most likely to re-sign with the Heat and help them recruit. He would be No. 2 or No. 3 on this list if it weren't for his unlikeliness to come to Brooklyn (remember, this list is for NETS needs).
6. Arron Afflalo - Player Option - 6'5"
Afflalo's an interesting case because he seems to fit Sean Marks' idea for hitting 'singles' or 'double' this offseason. The nine-year pro played this past season with the Knicks and averaged 12.8 points in 33 minutes per game. He might be an ideal starter for the Nets who will also want to give Bojan Bogdanovic minutes off the bench, should he become the backup next season.
Towards the end of last season with New York, Afflalo's minutes were cut drastically and some thought it was the Knicks' way of showing him the way out this offseason. Kurt Rambis told reporters that Afflalo's demotion to the bench 'adds nothing but value to him'.
Not long after, Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw discussed Afflalo's situation during a Nets-Knicks game, with Carrino suggesting if the 30-year-old did opt out, "a team across the river" could very well be interested. Let's not forget his agent, Jeff Schwartz, is the same agent who arranged both the Deron Williams and Joe Johnson buyouts. Do the Nets interest him? From what we gather, no.
Still: keep a close eye on the Nets and Afflalo.
7. Eric Gordon - Unrestricted - 6'4"
Gordon missed 188 games in the last five seasons and has only made the postseason once in eight seasons in the NBA. He can be a serviceable scoring guard for many teams, but he doesn't appear to be worth the risk nor the money he's collected in years past. Should he be willing to take a pay cut, maybe the Nets will be interested. He's only 27 years old and has time to turn his career around perhaps with a team digging for gold like Brooklyn.
8. Dion Waiters - Restricted - 6'4"
Former Jersey native, Waiters would be somewhat familiar with Brooklyn. People forget he's only 24 years old because he's bounced around from team to team quite often in his short time in the league. He's shown ability to put the ball in the hoop averaging 13 points over the course of his five-year career. His basketball IQ is not the highest.
One question is how much OKC is willing to spend on him with all their other commitments. Could he get lost in the shuffle and become an opportunity.
9. Courtney Lee - Unrestricted -6'5"
It doesn't seem like Lee would be much of an upgrade over Bogdanovic if the Nets are looking for a starter. His best season came with, wait for it, the New Jersey Nets during the infamous 2009-2010 season. He averaged 9.2 points this past season with Memphis and Charlotte, and shot the three ball at nearly 40 percent. The Nets could use all the three-point shooters they can get, but would it be worth it?
He does play defense, however, and that could help him in the free agent market. Take a look at this list. Not a lot of guys who excel at that end of the court.
10. Gerald Henderson - Unrestricted - 6'5"
Henderson's been more solid than he gets credit for over the last couple of seasons In four seasons prior to this past season with Portland, he averaged 14.2 points in 31.4 minutes per game. However, this past season his minutes dropped to 20 and his average dipped to 8.7 points per game. He can shine on a team that he sees time and has a role. Might fit in with the Nets if the price is right. Of course, with a salary cap of $94 million, that price could bring sticker shot.
Other notables: J.R. Smith (P.O.), Jamal Crawford (UFA), Manu Ginobili (P.O.), Lance Stephenson (T.O.).
This list includes no speculation. No sources. Just a list of shooting guards that best fit the direction the Nets are headed in. Sean Marks has his hands full and it'll be crucial for him to find the new 'Brooklyn Backcourt'.
But please, no trademark. Let them make a name for themselves ON the court.