In the first three parts of our depth chart pieces, it was tricky to identify who will be playing where because they have so many players that can be considered guards and/or wings. In this part, it’s tricky for a different reason: the Nets are small – two players 6’10” or taller to be exact.
Picking out who plays where will be tough. To perfect their pace and space offense, the Nets will have to use some of their wings at the 4 spot. One thing is for sure: If they don’t gang rebound, they will get killed on the glass.
Keep in mind: this is a position-less system. This series is about keeping track of who might be playing where. Kenny Atkinson has separated positioning by three categories: playmakers, wings, and bigs. Sean Marks has even said they’re in "talent acquisition mode," it’s all about getting the best player and letting Kenny sort it out.
We offer a depth chart of the power forward position with zero knowledge behind Kenny Atkinson’s thinking.
1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – SF/PF
Working off the criteria for Brooklyn’s offense, DeMarre Carroll or Quincy Acy should probably be in this spot. They can both spread the floor and rebound a bit. That being said, we’re likely to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson start at the 4 in a small-ball lineup.
Hollis-Jefferson started 50 games last year, moving into the starting position at PF late in the season. He played much better as he got more comfortable with his new position. His execution close to the rim still needs improvement, but it did get better as the year went on. He can easily get flustered if teams bait him into a situation he’s uncomfortable with, like double teams or even leaving him open from the perimeter.
Still, Hollis-Jefferson brings an athleticism to the lineup that others do not. He runs the floor very well and can beat slower defenders off the dribble. He bulked up this offseason and showed that he should be able to bang down low with bigger defenders. He missed most of his first season due to an ankle injury, but bounced back and played 78 games last season. It was practically his rookie season and he averaged 8.7 points and 4.6 rebounds.
He should be tons of fun to watch running the floor with D’Angelo Russell. And let’s not forget, he doesn’t turn 22 until next year. The only players on the roster younger than RHJ are rookie Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo Russell, and Isaiah Whitehead.
2. Quincy Acy – PF
There’s a whole lot to like about Quincy Acy in Brooklyn. They scooped him up midway through the season and everybody expected him to do the gritty things, which he did. However, other than Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, very few people expected him to shoot the three-ball the way he did. It’s a small sample size in 32 games, but don’t discredit that 43.4 percent shooting from deep. It’s the most improved aspect of his game. If he can stretch the floor, run the floor, and rebound the basketball; it’ll be interesting to see what role he’ll fill. If the Nets had traded Booker for a draft pick back in June, they would have been comfortable going with Hollis-Jefferson and Acy at the 4.
3. Trevor Booker – PF/C
Booker was definitely one of Marks’ most impressive pickups of his first offseason. He came into Brooklyn with a positive mindset, buying into the culture and bringing the grit that Kenny Atkinson loves. His Utah Jazz teammates had voted him “Best Teammate” after the 2016 season. Then, he had his best season as a pro, averaging 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25 minutes per game.
That being said, Booker is one of the most expendable players on the roster. He’s an expiring contract that averages close to a double-double. He is not a good shooter, but he’s valuable to the team both on and off the court as a leader who’s kept spirits high during tough times. He’s a pro’s pro. That stuff is invaluable.
However, the Nets are a young team that shoot a lot of three-pointers. Booker is neither of those. He turns 30 in November and shot only 32.1 percent from deep. They might want to give a chunk of his minutes to the developing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, or multi-dimensional Quincy Acy. And depending on their long-term plans for Jarrett Allen, the rookie might get some time at the 4 this year.
We have heard that the Nets like Acy because he does the same things as Booker —on the court — but with a jump shot. It will be interesting to see how they distribute the minutes.
4. DeMarre Carroll – SF/PF
With so many wings and guards and so few bigs, it seems logical that Carroll starts at the 4. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to see DMC as one of the crucial pieces to the offense, as Marks is said to be “enamored” of him. He’s undersized for the power forward position, but so is every team nowadays. If he can get open looks and hit the three-ball more consistently than the last two seasons, then expect him to be one of the most important players on this team ... as long as he’s healthy.
Carroll hasn’t been the same since he hurt his ACL and the severity of the knee issue has never been fully disclosed. He says he’s the healthiest he’s been in two years, but we’ll see. The Toronto Raptors traded him for a first and a second in 2018 because they didn’t believe he’ll get back to the level he played before the injury. He will have to prove them wrong.
Some other names worth mentioning: Caris LeVert. He’s a bit thin, but he’s extremely lanky and has the ability to grab a board and immediately push in transition. If they want to go small, LeVert is always an option.
Jacob Wiley, one of the two-way players signed this summer is a project, as he showed in the NBA Summer League. Still, he’s as good an athlete as there is on the roster. He ran the 400 meters in 47 seconds at Montana and has a max vertical that approaches 40 inches. Like the other two-way signee, Yakuba Ouattara, he’ll be with the big club until the Long Island Nets start playing in November. Then, it will be up to him.
And as we noted, the Nets have been working out bigs, like Jared Sullinger, who can play either position up front, and Tyler Zeller, who’s more of a 5. The Nets will add another big in a signing or trade.
The 4 and 5 slots might be the make-or-break for Brooklyn. They have a style of play they want to perfect, but they don’t have the necessary personnel to do so. Hustle guys like Hollis-Jefferson and Booker are good, but if they plan on taking 33 three-pointers per game, they’d better have better shooters in the frontcourt to open up the floor for the guards and wings.