The Brooklyn Nets have not been good on defense and maybe not even average on defense.
Brooklyn allows 117.8 points per game, the 3rd highest in the league, and a defensive rating of 113.5, the 5th highest in the league.
So far this season, the Nets have followed the idea that a good offense is the best defense. The Nets are the highest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 122.3 points per game with an offensive rating of 117.9 to be ranked only behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets can quickly run up the score and go bucket for bucket with any NBA team. Before the devastating loss to the Wizards, the Nets put up 147 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder to beat them by 22 points.
Even though this playstyle has worked and can work, it was interesting to see how quickly it backfired on the Nets.
With Bradly Beal and Russell Westbrook, the Wizards had the offensive players to at least go bucket for bucket with the Nets, and that forced the Nets to play perfectly, and when Jose Harris made a mistake on an inbounds pass late in the game that led to a Westbrook three, that was the game. The Nets defense seemed tired in the 4th quarter of the game and allowed 48 points, 22 to Beal and 15 to Westbrook.
The Nets announced Iman Shumpert’s resigning back to the roster on January 30th, which seems like an effort to solidify the wing defense. James Harden and Kyrie Irving are not the most motivated on defense; it is good to bring another solid wing defender to help them out. However, he might not have the massive on-court effect that some fans hope for. The Nets already have Bruce Brown and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as solid wing defenders, on top of Kevin Durant, who has been an above-average defender his entire career.
Shumpert, on paper, should add value to the defense. Still, the fact is that Brown and Luwawu-Cabarrot are both averaging less than 20 minutes a game, don’t get enough minutes to show how they can be defensive anchors on the wings. Along with that, neither of these three are solid on offense, which is possibly why Brown and Luwawu-Cabarrot don’t get the playing time. Shumpert might end up taking minutes from Brown and Luwawu-Cabarrot, giving the younger players less time to grow into the team.
The Nets still have another roster spot open that another defensive-minded player can fill.
Again, it might take away minutes from players who should be getting more minutes to grow or from players who are essential to the offense. On top of that, there really isn’t a free agent who can fit the team’s needs right away. It is possible later down the road that a player could come available either through a buyout or even someone through the G-League bubble in Disney World. The best chance the Nets have is to pursue a trade, but the best trade value the Nets have are 2nd round picks and Landry Shamet, which might not reach the asking price for a plug-in player.
With very few answers to the team’s defensive issue, the Nets are surprisingly doing well to overcome it. The team still has the 5th best record in the NBA, 14-9, and a big part of the team’s success has been through the team’s offense.
However, the team still has the best record against teams over .500, 10-3 after beating the Clippers, which shows that they do when the team needs to show up.
The Nets are 9-3 vs .500+ teams this season.
That’s the best record in the league. pic.twitter.com/iuKHq9WiRr
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 3, 2021
The Nets front office will continue to look for defensive help, but it seems that the team can manage for now.
It’s too soon to predict the playoffs, but if the Nets record against teams with winning records holds, they should be primed for a deep playoff run.
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