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With Caris LeVert back, how does Steve Nash prepare rotation for ‘regular game?’

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Brooklyn Nets Content Day Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With Caris LeVert announced as active for Friday’s preseason game against the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets, at looooooong last, will be at full-strength. 557 days in the making, the whole group is finally here.

How’s that for #SquadGoals? (I just dated myself with that reference, didn’t I?)

Brooklyn’s rotation, packed tight like the B-train running from Manhattan to the Barclays Center, just got one substantial piece larger. Even if deployed in that “Ginobili role” (as Steve Nash put it on Tuesday), you can expect Brooklyn’s coaching staff to cut out a pretty sizable slice of the pie for Caris LeVert, who will be participating in his first NBA game since the Orlando “bubble.”

To further complicate matters, Nash mentioned on Thursday that he wants to use Friday’s preseason tuneup as more of a “regular season” type of simulation to prepare for the season opener against the Golden State Warriors. Here’s the full quote.

“We’re going to take another step toward a ‘regular game,’” said Nash. “By playing some more regular-type minutes, looking a little deeper at our minutes and rotations, and try and emulate what it may look like on Tuesday against the Warriors.”

Now, if you’ll allow me, I’m going to do a bit of a translation on what that all means. Call me the Rosetta Stone of coach-speak. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, will be playing more minutes. Plain and simple. That’ll be $15.99, please!

So, to prepare for preseason game number two, we must factor in a sizable minutes-share for the 7/11 duo, a long(-ish) leash for Caris LeVert, and perhaps a slight uptick in floor time for some of Brooklyn’s other prominent players (Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen came to mind). Keep in mind, Caris Le6th-Man is yet another guard to fit into this 1,000-piece puzzle––a puzzle that features pieces that are almost inscrutably similar in shape and size (and skill!).

Here’s a look at Brooklyn’s depth chart and minute-allocation from the first preseason game against the Washington Wizards.

MINUTES VS. WASHINGTON

POSITION NAME MINUTES
POSITION NAME MINUTES
G Kyrie Irving 17
G Spencer Dinwiddie 25
G Chris Chiozza 9
G Tyler Johnson 12
G Landry Shamet 21
G Bruce Brown 0
F Kevin Durant 24
F Joe Harris 19
F Jeff Green 17
F Taurean Prince 22
F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 20
F Rodions Kurucs 7
C DeAndre Jordan 17
C Reggie Perry 16
C Jarrett Allen 15
TOTAL 241

A couple of things to notice. Bruce Brown, a 3-and-D guard who many hoped could accentuate Brooklyn’s floor as a defensive unit, did not play a single minute in Sunday’s opener. Nash has mentioned previously that Brown’s performance as a playmaker and spacer will greatly affect his destiny as a participating piece in the rotation, so perhaps that’s a possible explanation. Or maybe it’s just preseason and I’m overreacting. Who knows.

On the flip side, fellow newcomer Landry Shamet earned himself quite the runway in Brooklyn’s home opener, to the tune of 21 total minutes of play. “Bubble” standout Tyler Johnson also saw 12 minutes of time on the floor.

Alright. Fasten your snappiest projection hats atop your domes. Let’s hop into a vortex of hypotheticals. First, factor in a sprinkle of 25-or-so minutes for LeVert, to match Dinwiddie’s total from Brooklyn’s first preseason game. We’ll also bump Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s minutes to, hm, like 27 minutes each? Does that sound right? And then for some of Brooklyn’s core role players––namely Joe Harris, really––we’ll add on 2-to-4 extra minutes of play.

Okay. Behold, my magnum opus. *Waves wand* Spreadsheet Maximus!

PROPOSED MINUTES @ BOSTON

POSITION NAME MINUTES
POSITION NAME MINUTES
G Kyrie Irving 27
G Spencer Dinwiddie 25
G Chris Chiozza 4
G Tyler Johnson 5
G Landry Shamet 15
G Bruce Brown 0
G Caris LeVert 25
F Kevin Durant 27
F Joe Harris 23
F Jeff Green 12
F Taurean Prince 18
F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 12
F Rodions Kurucs 0
C DeAndre Jordan 17
C Reggie Perry 14
C Jarrett Allen 17
TOTAL 241

Some key things to note: With LeVert’s return to action, minutes at the lead ball-handler position will diminish for some of Brooklyn’s understudy options. Thus, the dip in floor time for both Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson. You’ll also notice a reduction across the board at the forward position. All three of Taurean Prince, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Jeff Green play less than 20 minutes in this proposed rotation. Why? It’s in Brooklyn’s best interests to play their most talented players as much as humanly possible.

What that generates is a whole lot of small-ball.

But moreover, it proffers a rotation that’s ripe with self-creation, affixed with spacing threats, and topped off with superstar panache. (insert Chef’s kiss)

Look, this is just a fantasized rotation from a writer who has actively chosen to pair sweatpants with a button-up for an entire workday, so take this with a grain of salt. There are numerous ways to allocate and re-allocate the 240(-ish) total minutes of play. What I’m saying is, debate a wall.

If there’s one takeaway you should have from this exercise, it’s this...

Steve Nash has got the right type of problem on his hands. Possessing one (or two, or three, or four...) too many weapons during a season with COVID-19 sure doesn’t seem like the worst predicament to have.

And I mean, c’mon. Let’s not kid ourselves. Sean Marks doesn’t work without a purpose.

“We have to prepare because you do not know what is going to come up,” Marks said back on November 20th. “I think we are preparing for a variety of different scenarios. I don’t think we need to make trades or sign players just for the sake of making trades or signing players. There needs to be a purpose behind it, needs to fill the role, and again whether it’s the win-now perspective or something that helps us over the course of the next two or three years so we are weighing a variety of different options here.”

There’s a plan here at work, folks.