Saturday, September 15, 2012

Analyzing the Revamped Bench of the Brooklyn Nets

      For their first season in Brooklyn, the Nets have a revamped bench with new players at nearly every position. Besides keeping young swingman MarShon Brooks and retaining Keith Bogans for the veteran's minimum salary, the Nets have a bench comprised of many new faces. Let's take a look at the options the Nets will have on the bench this season including overviews and projections for each player. Some acronyms that will be featured in this article are minutes per game (MPG), points per game (PPG), assists per game (APG), blocks per game (BPG), steals per game (SPG) and rebounds per game (RPG).

C.J. Watson

Overview: Watson is arguably one of the best backup point guards in the NBA. Last season, he filled in admirably for the Bulls during Derrick Rose's multiple absences. He averaged almost 10 points per game to go along with four assists and two rebounds. In the NBA Playoffs, Watson saw his points average drop to just over seven per game, but he averaged 5.5 assists in the first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Jordan Farmar, last year's backup to Deron Williams, had several nice performances, but suffered a season-ending injury like several of his teammates did last year. At times, the Nets would be giving too many minutes to fringe NBA players in Sundiata Gaines and Armon Johnson. Watson is a significant upgrade over Farmar, Gaines and Johnson and has proven in the past that he could step in to start and help his team during the biggest moments, as evidenced by this shot. He also comes in at a nice bargain after accepting a minimum-salary deal.

Projections: 20 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.1 RPG

MarShon Brooks

Overview: Last year, the Nets rookie shined and earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Brooks is a flat-out scorer. Some people have nicknamed him "The Young Mamba," because his ball-dribbling moves are Kobe Bryant-esque. I think that's a stretch for a comparison since Bryant is an eventual Hall of Famer and Brooks is just growing into his own. Brooks will most likely be the sixth man for the Nets this season, but he will still see significant minutes. I can see him sharing time with veteran All Star guard Joe Johnson like San Antonio guards Danny Green and Manu Ginobili do. Brooks will be coming off the bench now that the Nets have added Johnson into the fold, but he's still a budding, young player. With proper mentoring, look for Brooks to continue to improve.

Projections: 24 MPG, 12.7 PPG, 2.9 APG, 4.4 RPG

Can Brooks make strides of improvement in his second season
despite having All Star swingman Joe Johnson in front of him?

Mirza Teletovic

Overview: Teletovic has greatly impressed during the past several years in Europe, so the Nets have decided to take a chance on the Bosnian star. Most recently in a FIBA Eurobasket tournament, Teletovic averaged more than 24 PPG and nearly 11 RPG. He's known for his long range and ability to score both on and off the dribble. Where Teletovic's game lacks, however, is on defense. I think head coach Avery Johnson will prepare Teletovic well and help him carve out a role on the Nets' bench. Teletovic might have some growing pains as an NBA rookie, but Deron Williams will get him open shots.

Projections: 18 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 APG

Reggie Evans

Overview: Evans is a rugged, tough man on the glass and that's pretty much it. But, he's good at it. Evans is one of the best per 48 minute rebounders in the league and last season averaged nearly two points per game to go along with five rebounds per game in limited minutes. He was a fan favorite on the Los Angeles Clippers for his demeanor and was a crucial member of the team during their playoff run. Don't expect Evans to be on the floor too much, but expect him to play hard when he steps on the court.

Projections: 14 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.3 BPG

Andray Blatche

Blatche posing in all-Brooklyn attire
after signing a deal with the Nets.
Overview: If anything is a hit-or-miss for the Nets this season, Blatche is probably it. Two years ago, Blatche had a career season with the Washington Wizards, averaging nearly 17 points and eight rebounds a game. Last season, Blatche dealt with injuries as well as on-court problems, which led to the Wizards amnestying him. Blatche has always been a mysterious talent, but his attitude has hurt him. With the Nets, he'll be given a second chance by being one of the first big men off the bench. Although he's not a natural center, he could step in if Brook Lopez were to get injured again. I think Blatche, in a new, exciting environment, will bounce back and prove his critics wrong.

Projections: 22 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG

Josh Childress

Overview: The swingman with the funky afro haircut will be playing in Brooklyn this season. Last week, the Nets rounded out their roster by signing Josh Childress to a one-year contract. Childress is the only natural small forward behind Gerald Wallace but could see some playing time. He adds depth to a spot where the Nets lacked very much last season.

Projections: 12 MPG, 3.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.2 APG

Tyshawn Taylor & Tornike Shengelia

Overview: These two rookies will probably not see much playing time, but instead will learn how to succeed in the NBA. Taylor has two solid point guards in front of him from whom he will learn how to efficiently control an NBA offense, while Shengelia will learn from multiple players and coaches how to adjust to the NBA. Both players had exceptional Summer League performances, however, expect the Nets to use them in garbage minutes or in case of an injury.

Projections for Taylor: 8 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG

Projections for Shengelia: 6 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.6 APG

Keith Bogans & Jerry Stackhouse

Overview: Last season, Bogans played five games for the Nets until he suffered a season-ending injury. Stackhouse was at the end of the Atlanta Hawks' bench and did not see much playing time. Bogans, whose game is predicated on defense, was once a daily starter for Chicago. He could be a solid mentor for MarShon Brooks. Stackhouse will be more of a player-coach and will help in the development of the younger guys on the team. Don't expect either Bogans or Stackhouse to see much time on the court.

Projections for Bogans: 6 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.5 SPG

Projections for Stackhouse: 3 MPG, 1.2 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.3 APG

      Several people have criticized the Nets' bench unit for various reasons, but I would throw most of it out the window since it's a new team with an incredible amount of hype. The Nets, as an organization, are focused on winning a championship in the near future. Multiple players on their bench, including C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche, have signed lower-salary contracts because they've bought into the idea of Brooklyn hanging up a banner soon. It seems to me, at least, that each player on this team is excited about the opportunity in Brooklyn and is serious about succeeding in the short term by making the playoffs and winning the NBA Finals. If they're serious about Brooklyn, then why aren't we?

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