In an impossibly short amount of time, the Nets have gone through what can now be defined as a massive roster overhaul. Out are (deep breath) D’Angelo Russell, Jared Dudley, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe, Shabazz Napier, and Trevon Graham. That’s eight guys! More than half an entire roster! Filling those spots, the Nets have brought in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, Taurean Prince, and rookie Nic Claxton. Lot of new Nets to get to know this season.
Brooklyn’s bench unit was one of their biggest strengths last year, deploying Spencer Dinwiddie, Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley, and Shabazz Napier to great effect with a mix of young talent and veteran savvy. With all but one of those players shipped out, the Nets have brought in a couple of guys —Wilson Chandler and Garrett Temple— who are poised to take the mantle. Both ended up finishing last season as teammates on the Clippers, and they bring similar skills to the table. We’re going to break down the Nets new depth additions and see how they might fill in for the guys they’re replacing. Let’s get into it.
A true journeyman, Brooklyn will be Temple’s ninth team since he entered the league in 2009, and that’s not counting the season he spent in Italy! With Durant poised to miss a significant amount of time, the Nets are going to need some wing depth, which is exactly what Temple brings to the table. The 33-year-old Temple can comfortably play the 2 or 3, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see Kenny Atkinson try him out at the 4 sometime just to get a look. Temple is 6’6”, can handle the ball a bit, knows where to be on defense, and has an occasionally effective three pointer. He isn’t a sharpshooter by any means, but since 2015 he’s hit 36% of his three pointers which is enough to command defensive attention if he darts over to catch a pass in the corner.
Temple has a high defensive motor, and he’s good for a nice chase down block every once in a while. He’s a 3-and-D guy who can actually do both ... he’s averaged 1.5 steals per game per 36 for his career, but his secret weapon is that he has a tight handle and seems perfectly comfortable with the ball in his hands. Having a guy who can play on the wing but also do a smidge of playmaking when called upon is incredibly valuable, and last season we saw Joe Harris start to dabble in being a pick-and-roll ball handler to some success. In other words, Temple was made to be a Net.
With KD out, Temple is going to see a lot of minutes backing up both Caris LeVert and Joe Harris, and one of the more interesting things the Nets did this off-season was adding guys who can kind of play all over the court. Remember position-less basketball. Temple is going to have a lot of opportunities to play with both Irving and Dinwiddie, and we might even see some fun lineups with LeVert as the primary ball handler surrounded by shooters and a center. Who knows! The Nets have a ton of tools to work with, which brings us to our next new player.
One of the most acute victims of the changing way positions are assigned and viewed in the NBA, Chandler went from being a shooting guard, to a small forward, and ultimately to a power forward all without gaining an inch of height. At 6’9” he’s a quintessential 2019 4, able to stretch the floor for the playmakers around him. He isn’t a volume scorer by any means, averaging 6 points in 23.1 minutes between Philly and Los Angeles last season, but he does provide a veteran presence on the wings. Chandler seems like a prime candidate to take the Jared Dudley spot, which is playing 20 minutes per game down the stretch and ended up being an important part of Kenny’s team construction, despite being whatever the opposite of Giannis Antetokounmpo is.
Sometimes in basketball it doesn’t necessarily matter how good a player is, but rather how well they fit into their current situation, especially in the regular season. Wilson Chandler doesn’t necessarily move the needle a ton in a vacuum. Still, having what will essentially be a third power forward behind Rodions Kurucs and Taurean Prince should be able to come in and not disrupt the offensive game plan. That’s a real luxury. Chandler has shot 35 percent from three since 2013 which, similar to Temple, is not incredible but definitely enough to space the floor. And again, with KD out the Nets are going to need wings.
Prince, who you can read more about here, is going to soak up a bunch of those minutes with Chandler right behind him. Prince at 25 is basically exactly what Chandler was at that age. Just look at this comparison ...
Prince last season at age 24: 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 44/39/81 shooting
Chandler at age 25: 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 46/41/79 shooting
Pretty close! The Nets have acquired a veteran stretch 4 in Chandler who knows who he is and will play within a system on limited minutes, and a younger version of that in Prince who still has room to grow and improve his game. Love it.
Even without KD, Brooklyn should have so many different options and tools to deploy as they figure out how to best utilize and maximize their upgraded roster. Lineups will be switchy, three’s will be launched, and Brooklyn’s army of skilled wings is (hopefully) going to pair well with its duo of killer-instinct point guards. More space for Kyrie and Dinwiddie to work = very, very good basketball. Not only did they Nets add top top top tier talent, but their bench squad got a facelift too. With the East as open as it’s ever been, Brooklyn will need them if they’re going to make some noise.