When the Brooklyn Nets acquired 9-time NBA All-Star James Harden via a trade with the Houston Rockets last January, it cost them a hefty price. Acquiring the former NBA Most Valuable Player meant parting ways with major pieces from their roster including Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince who were all key players for their second unit.
The depletion of their roster was on full display in the playoffs as the bulk of their offensive production came from their three All-Stars Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. They were able to get some production from their bench in the form of their veteran forward Jeff Green, but outside of him, they got virtually nothing from their second unit. Relying on the production of the Nets’ three-headed monster ultimately played a part in them being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
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Report Says Nicolas Batum Can Put Nets ‘Over the Top’
This is possibly the biggest offseason in the Nets’ franchise history as everything is pretty much set up for them to have a deep championship run. Harden and Irving will have a full offseason to rehab their injuries, and their roster has every bit of talent to compete. If there is one weakness the Nets need to address this offseason it is adding talent to their bench. According to a report by Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, Clippers’ forward Nicolas Batum could be the addition their second unit needs to propel them to a championship.
“His renaissance with the Los Angeles Clippers this season was revelatory, and it laid a blueprint for how he can thrive in a modest-yet-significant role elsewhere. Batum actually led the Clippers in total regular-season minutes. That speaks to the breadth of injuries with which they dealt. It is also just flat-out bonkers,” Favale writes.
“Though he doesn’t fill the traditional-stopper quota, his defensive malleability can be a boon for any contender that needs switchable options. He spent at least 20 percent of his possessions guarding each of the 1, 2, 3, and 4 spots, and among everyone who cleared at least 1,800 minutes, he posted the sixth-highest versatility score, according to Basketball Index.”
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Batum Is More Than Just a Defender
The Nets getting a defensive stopper would move the needle for Brooklyn as it was one of their glaring weaknesses all season long even before the Harden trade. But Batum brings more to the table than just his defensive prowess. As Favale notes he is an above-average three-point shooter and playing with Harden, Irving, and Durant will afford him a plethora of open looks.
“Applying his offensive fit outside L.A. should be a cinch. Batum just splashed in more than 40 percent of his triples while subsisting on a heavy diet of catch-and-shoot looks, and he table-sets for teammates with lightning-fast touch passes and pump-and-drives,” Favale continued.
“Affording him might not be an issue for anyone. He’s still owed quite a bit of money from the Hornets and could be willing to sacrifice salary for the right role and fit or shot at a championship.”
Brooklyn Nets Hire David Vanterpool as Assistant Coach
The Nets have already begun making major offseason hires even though the season has not yet ended. Brooklyn recently announced the hiring of David Vanterpool who served as an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2012-2019. Last season Vanterpool received a ringing endorsement from Blazers star Damian Lillard who believes that he has the tools to be a head coach in the NBA.
“How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool,” Lillard said of the Timberwolves not hiring Vanterpool as head coach via his Twitter in February 2021. “And he’s right there on the bench… and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!”
Now Vanterpool has the opportunity to coach up another dominant backcourt in Harden and Irving. According to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Bally Sports he is overly-excited about his new gig in Brooklyn.
The offseason is already fully active for the Nets. If they hope to be a serious title contender in 2022, they will have to ensure that this free agency period is one in which they hit several home runs.