Brooklyn – winners of just one of their last five – has decided it’s time for a change.
After a 13-game trial run experimenting with a Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, and Taurean Prince starting, the Nets pulled the plug on the lineup that lead Brooklyn to just a 6-7 record.
When Kenny Atkinson announced his starters Friday, Prince was out and Wilson Chandler was in.
Prince is in the midst of a disappointing first season in Brooklyn, averaging 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds on just 38 percent shooting overall and 35 percent from three – including a league worst 28 percent on left/corner threes. Prince also ranks 56thamong NBA power forwards with a -1.14 RPM (real plus minus) – grading out as a negative player on both ends of the floor.
Even with Prince on the bench, the aforementioned starting five has played the second most minutes of any five-man lineup for Brooklyn this season.
In fact, that five has been among Brooklyn’s best lineups this season. A Dinwiddie, LeVert, Allen, Harris, Prince lineup has put up a 116.1 offensive rating to go along with a 104.6 defensive rating – good for a 11.5 net rating, so expect that grouping to continue to get a lot of time together moving forward.
There’s no reason to belief this move is permanent, however, with the only Nets win in their last five having come on the back of a heroic, 51-point effort from LeVert alongside third stringers Chris Chiozza, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Rodions Kurucs, the Nets had no choice but to mix it up.
Atkinson mentioned pregame that the team is getting close to shaking things up. Although he gave no indication about a possible lineup change against San Antonio.
With just 21 games to play in the regular season, its fair to wonder how much a move like this reveals how the Nets feel about Prince heading into a summer where his recently signed 2-year, $29M goes into effect.
Do the Nets trust his ability to rebound from his struggles or could he be a trade piece as the Nets look to surround Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with better complementary pieces?
In a season of evaluation, Prince has the rest of the regular season and playoffs to prove his worth.
So far, the move has worked. By the end of the third Friday, Prince had 13 points and five boards as sixth man.