Position-less basketball is a concept, something new to be debated widely (other than in Houston where it is God’s word). It is also the game the Brooklyn Nets will be playing, out of necessity, starting with Wednesday’s scrimmage vs. the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Nets are without eight, count ‘em eight players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Wilson Chandler, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and Michael Beasley. Injury, the coronavirus and a simple desire to keep family safe and sound.
Now, with some (mostly G League) reinforcements and only 14 healthy players —the fewest in Orlando, Jacque Vaughn will have to make do.
“It’s been a point of emphasis for sure. I think as soon as we saw that we weren’t going to have our initial roster, we had to be creative in thinking about what scenarios might present themselves,” Vaughn told the Nets Zoom call on Sunday. “So that is maybe a guy that played the or 4 playing the 5. Maybe a guy that usually plays the 3 plays the 4, so we’ve mixed around with that some and will continue to do so.”
Caris LeVert, who usually plays the 2 or the 3 will play the 1 sometimes. Joe Harris will play the 3 or 4. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot the 4 ... even the 5. Rodions Kurucs anywhere from the 3 to the 5. Jamal Crawford either the 1 or the 2, etc., etc.
Complicating matters even further, two of the more versatile players, Justin Anderson, a burly 6’6” swingman with a 7’0” wingspan, and Donta Hall, a hyper athletic 6’10” big with a 7’5” wingspan, will be joining the team from quarantine in the next few days.
“I feel terrible for Justin,” Vaughn admitted. “It’s been a really slow process for him, trying to get to practice and out of quarantine, trying to get negative tests coming in. It’s been tough on him.’’
It will take them a few days to acclimate themselves but Vaughn’s players, Anderson’s teammates, said they’ll have a role to play.
“It’s not just on JV and the coaches to bring everybody up to speed — Jamal, Tyler, Lance, Justin is going to join us at some point,” Harris told the writers. “But it’s not just on JV to get the new guys up to speed. A lot of it falls on the players and us being able to communicate with them, especially outside of the stuff on the court.”
Harris added that the team’s players are using their time around the pool etc. to get the word out.
“Obviously, we have a lot of time to spend together within the bubble. A lot of it is making sure that everybody is on the same page, full understanding of JV’s concepts, philosophy, everything.”
Nets players aren’t unhappy with the possibilities. They’re excited about running and with a belief in their conditioning, they’re confident things can work.
“I love it, actually. They’re allowing me to fight down there in the paint and give some hits, fight for rebounds and stuff like that. I kind of like that,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said.
“It’s been good so far. Of course, it’s going to be good when we have the 4 men coming in and the 5 man. ... It’s pretty much the same for me and it’s been good. It like it. It’s fun. We’ve been playing really fast in transition and all that, so it doesn’t really matter the 2 or the 3 or the 4. It’s pretty much the same.”
Even with his limited roster, Vaughn says he will bring a couple of the new veterans along slowly and move the chess pieces around.
“We’re going to be careful and strategic in bringing Jamal (Crawford) and Tyler (Johnson) along to catch up with the rest of them so they’ll sit out some practices and sit out some drills and while that happens we’ll need bodies to play different positions for us,” Vaughn told the reporters.
We’ll all get a look a how the plan works when the Nets take the court for the first of their first three scrimmages at 7 p.m., which will be broadcast on YES. The scrimmage will be preceded by the Brooklyn Nets Restart Special at 6:30 p.m.
- Short-handed Nets are gearing up to play positionless basketball in Orlando - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Restart of NBA season anything but routine for Nets - Steve Popper - Newsday
- Jacque Vaughn’s audition as Nets coach is far from ideal - Marc Berman - New York Post
- What will the Nets’ offense look like under Jacque Vaughn? - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York