The Brooklyn Nets free agency has not been as exciting as most fans had hoped it would be, but General Manager Sean Marks has made moves that improve this team.
The issue with last season is that the Nets had to build a roster around Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving on the fly in the middle of the season. Now they are given a complete offseason, and they are looking for the right pieces to take them to the NBA Finals.
Most fans probably hoped that the Nets would go all out sighing as many players as possible to one-year vet minimum contacts, like the Los Angeles Lakers, but Nets have taken a different route.
Re-Signing Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown Jr.
Six-time All-Star F Blake Griffin has agreed on a one-year deal to stay with the Brooklyn Nets, his agent Sam Goldfeder of @excelbasketball tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
Blake Griffin was one of the first players the Nets signed in free agency, accepting a one-year vet minimum contract shortly after free agency opened. Griffin proved that he still had some life left in his legs after being bought out by the Detroit Pistons, and come playoff time, he was the starting center playing crucial minutes.
Griffins’ ability to spread the floor while also being a cutter and playmaker elevated the offense. On defense, Griffin was sturdy and played as if he had nothing to lose, with an intensity he had not shown before.
Bruce Brown Jr.
Bruce Brown was one of the surprise standouts of last season. Brown won over the hearts of Nets fans by playing gritty defense on opposing guards and playing like a big on offense.
Brown was the perfect example of the positionless basketball that Head Coach Steve Nash wants to play, and keeping him as an essential role player and fan-favorite is fantastic.
Nets Add More Offense
Free agent G Patty Mills has agreed to a two-year, $12M deal with the Brooklyn Nets, his agent Steven Heumann of @CAA_Basketball tells ESPN. Deal includes a player option.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
The signing of Patty Mills sure came as a surprise but is defiantly a welcomed one. Mills signed a two-year $12 million contract to spend his 13th and 14th season with the Nets, taking him to 34 years old. By joining an already stacked offensive backcourt, Mills will be the sixth-man sparkplug player, Landry Shamet’s role last season.
Mills will also run the offense if Harden and Irving are not on the court, being a veteran ball-handler and scorer with the second unite. He will improve on the players before him who were put in that role, such as Mike James and Tyler Johnson. Mills is a career 38% from three-point land, making him a deadeye shooter, who should capitalize with the open space the Nets offense will provide.
Mills also is an elite shooter off the catch and shoot, joining a team that is already elite at it, and with so much spacing, his catch and shoot opportunities will only rise.
Catch and shoot 3P% last season:
51.5 — Joe Harris
44.2 — Kevin Durant
43.9 — Blake Griffin
43.3 — Kyrie Irving
41.3 — Patty Mills pic.twitter.com/g6CJER2TrW
— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 3, 2021
Mills will not offer much on the defensive end, which is fine, as this is an offensive-orientated team. Putting him in lineups with Javon Carter or Brown in the backcourt will help cover for that weakness.
Adding Veteran Wings
James Johnson and DeAndre’ Bembry bring in toughness and defense to this Nets roster. Grit was something that the team was lacking last season, with Brown and Griffin being the players who you could count on to make 50/50 hustle plays. Johnson and Bembry, along with the addition of Carter, bring that toughness and grit to the team.
Johnson is turning 34 this season, but he is still one of the toughest players in the league, and his value will be seen on the defensive side of the ball. His Per 100 Positions defensive rating for his career is 105, with his best seasons earlier in his career. We will find out what Johnson’s role on offense will be, as he is not a solid floor spacer, but he can be a ball-handler and creator when need be.
Bembry is very similar to Johnson, as his primary strength is his toughness and defense, along with the lack of shooting. He is 6’5, but his wingspan is 6’9, helping him get in passing lanes, averaging a steal a game for his career in under 20 minutes a game. Bembry is not a reliable shooter, so seeing how he fits into the offense will be a work in progress.
Final Review Grade // B
There are still moves to come but adding a reliable ball-handler and shooter with Mills is a great fit. Johnson and Bembry add much-needed grit to the team. However, their fit in the offense will need to be explored.
With so much spacing, they both could just be used as screeners and cutters.
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