Brook Lopez Should Shoot Threes

Following their fairly dramatic overhaul this summer, the Brooklyn Nets roster seems to be a few cuts away from being finalized. As it’s currently assembled, one major flaw stands out - the lack of serviceable three-point shooting. No player on the Nets shot 36% from deep (the league average) on at least 100 attempts last season and only the aging Joe Johnson, Wayne Ellington and erratic Jarrett Jack have done it in the past three years. Last year, Brooklyn ranked among the bottom ten teams in three-point percentage and attempt rate in a league where the three-pointer plays a key role in any good offense. Although the Nets shot better from three following the Thaddeus Young deal, they’ve lost some key shooters heading into this season and don’t have room to bring in new ones. A solution? Have their best offensive player shoot threes.

Brook Lopez has attempted 17 threes in his seven-year NBA career, making just one of them, so the idea seems foolhardy off the bat. But Lopez certainly has the range, and given the green light could prove that with a bigger sample size. Lopez has shot a good number of long twos over his career, so delving into those numbers could give us an idea of how he would fare shooting from three. Last season, Lopez shot 41.7% from 20-24 feet on 60 attempts. In 2013, he connected on 36.8% on 38 of those attempts and did the same in 2011. If teams choose to chase Lopez off the arc and make him create off the dribble, Lopez would still be able to thrive. Lopez shot just shy of 42% on off-the-dribble attempts from 8-24 feet last season, per NBASavant. He also got whistled for only five charges.

There’s also the offensive rebounding factor, which is a trade-off for bigs stepping out behind the arc. This isn’t much of a factor though, given the Nets are already a poor offensive rebounding team (23rd in the league) and the idea is Lopez would be taking a step back on his long twos, not shooting more jumpers in general.

The question quickly goes from “can he” to “will he” after consuming these numbers, Lopez’s fundamentally sound stroke and that according to TheBrooklynGame’s Devin Kharpertian he knocks them down in warm-ups. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN wrote a story last month suggesting Lopez could be working on adding the three-point shot to his game, but it doesn’t include any assurances from Lopez or his coaches. Here’s some video of Lopez working on his threes in a recent workout with the Nets:

Heading into his prime, Lopez is a throwback to old school NBA centers that hasn’t needed to adapt to this point. But with his team shallow in the three-point shooting department, now may be the time to add a new era big man’s skill to his game.


Nets trade Steve Blake, Waive Cory Jefferson

More Nets news on the way, as Brooklyn has waived Cory Jefferson (as announced by the Nets earlier today) and traded Steve Blake for Quincy Miller, who will also be cut, according to RealGM’s Shams Charania.

This brings Brooklyn’s roster count down to 16 as Summer League continues. Blake was acquired in the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson trade. Jefferson averaged 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.6 minutes a night last season.


Nets Sign Andrea Bargnani for No Good Reason

The Nets announced today that they have signed Andrea Bargnani to a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, with a player’s option for the latter season. This move won’t kill the Nets, but it is 100% indisputably absurd, given Bargnani’s lack of skill, upside, durability, fit and basketball I.Q. among many other things. 99 out of every 100 days I will be reasoned, search for nuance, explore every side to every story. That one day is when the team I cover signs Andrea Bargnani against all that is logical and sacred in this beautiful game.

Clearly, I’m not happy. I made that evident when I first learned about the news and took to Twitter. But because I’m proud to say this blog carries with it strong analysis and owes it’s readers in-depth coverage, I’m going to share both my hasty (though accurate) all-caps tweets and an explanation of why I said those things. Let’s begin.

The Nets were having a really good offseason, at least considering where they stood coming in. Billy King got rid of Deron Williams’s contract and crafted a much younger and more athletic roster. This is especially the case in the frontcourt, where through the draft the Nets picked up uber-athletic power forwards Cory Jefferson and Chris McCullough in back-to-back years. Brooklyn has also taken fliers on Thomas Robinson and Willie Reed, two relatively young big men with upside.

Despite all this, they signed Andrea Bargnani. Let’s continue.

Old? Bargnani is going to be 30 once the season begins.

Injury-prone? He hasn’t played a 70-game season since 2010. He played in 29 games last season, 42 the year before.

Can’t jump over a credit card? Okay, maybe this one was harsh.

Seriously, though, Bargnani moves like he’s in quicksand and doesn’t have much verticality in him anymore.

Lionel Hollins likes defense. Bargnani doesn’t play any. As for taking minutes from young bigs, well, the Nets have trailed behind nearly every other team in the “young, developing player” department for years now. After collecting a great deal of them this summer and possibly moving towards rebuilding, it’s really not the time to be giving a washed up veteran minutes that could be going to raw, young big men that need development through in-game experience.

Bargnani’s not a good basketball player. Maybe two years ago it made a little sense for Knicks fans to be saying that he could bounce back from some down years, but it’s become the norm now.

He’s averaged over two assists per-36 minutes just twice in his career. His vision is atrocious and he simply doesn’t look to move the ball. His rebounding rate has eclipsed 10% three times in his career, he’s not going to help on the glass at all. He’s primarily a “floor spacer” on offense, but three-pointers have made up under 25% of his field goal attempts in four of the last five seasons. When he shoots from deep, he connects on 30.2% of them over the past four seasons. Half the time he can’t even threaten defenses with the long ball because he stands around in the long-two area. His usage rate over the past four seasons, and throughout his career, is consistent with that of a team’s secondary scorer. Defensively, he doesn’t move, can’t do much when he gets to his spots and doesn’t communicate. The only good he’s done on the defensive end is allow centers to try and post him up and stand his ground pretty well.

The. Freaking. Kings.

Silver linings, folks.

We went over that.

More positives!

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention his +/- numbers. The Knicks were outscored by 17.5 points per 100 possessions with Bargnani on the floor last season. They only got outscored by 8.2 with him on the bench. No other Knick had worse numbers. Note, this is the team that won 17 games last season and consistently played: Travis Wear, Lou Amundson, Ricky Ledo, Cole Aldrich, Jason Smith, Lance Thomas, Quincy Acy… you get the picture.

His 2014 numbers weren’t much better. Opponents had a 6.2-point leg up on the Knicks per 100 possessions with Bargnani in the game. The Knicks had the advantage by 1.4 points with him out. Bargnani wasn’t the absolute worst in this occasion, but still at the very bottom alongside Shannon Brown and Beno Udrih.

A partially guaranteed one-year deal would have made this easier to swallow.

That would have made sense.

I think we should wrap up there. Again, this won’t destroy Brooklyn’s season so long as Hollins doesn’t play him 30 20 10 any minutes a night. But boy is this a humbling way for King to end an otherwise positive and fruitful offseason.


Deron Williams Agrees to Contract Buyout

The Brooklyn Nets and point guard Deron Williams have agreed to terms on a contract buyout, as reported by David Aldridge. The 31-year old Williams, who signed his five-year, $99 million dollar deal in 2012, will receive $27.5 million from the Nets organization in his release (of the $43.1 million remaining over the next two seasons) and then hit waivers, where he’s expected to sign for $10 million over two years with the Dallas Mavericks.

Leaks of a potential buyout between Williams and the Nets filtered out late Thursday night, with Stein’s sources attributing the activity to the Dallas Mavericks’ failed pursuit of DeAndre Jordan in free agency and the organization’s desire to sign Williams with their unexpected cap space after courting him in the summer of 2012. Williams appeared in 68 games for the Nets in 2014-15 and averaged 13 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game, shooting a career-low 38.7% from the field, and reportedly clashed with head coach Lionel Hollins last season during a meeting around the All-Star break.

Deron Williams’s Nets career was affected early by ankle issues which limited him on the court and sapped him of his former athleticism and lift on his jumper, but he was still capable of the occasional throwback performance, like with his 35-point outburst against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. Off the court, Williams struggled to adjust to a leadership role with the team and as the face of the organization’s move to Brooklyn, which former teammate Paul Pierce addressed this postseason. He should be expected to compete for a starting role with the Dallas Mavericks next season, while the Nets will fill his point guard position through their numerous internal options.

Losing Williams’s on-court production and shooting ability will be a loss for a Brooklyn Nets team that hopes to return to the postseason again next season, but the financial savings on Deron’s deal will help the organization in the long-term by trimming their luxury tax commitments and removing a near-max salary slot from next season’s payroll. Brooklyn general manager Billy King will then utilize the NBA’s stretch provision to spread Williams’s remaining $27.5 million over the next five years, effectively eliminating his luxury tax anxieties and any potential Joe Johnson trade rumors going forward.

Deron Williams’s Brooklyn Nets career spanned five years and 277 games, and he ranks fourth in assists (2,078) in the franchise’s history.


Brooklyn has Five Point Guards, and That’s Okay

In a quietly impressive offseason, the Brooklyn Nets raised eyebrows by amassing a total of four point guards as their final roster nears completion. Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack are returning from last year, Steve Blake was picked up in Brooklyn’s draft day deal with Portland, Shane Larkin was signed to a two-year deal and Ryan Boatright was signed to a partially-guaranteed deal.

Five is an unusually high number of players for one position on an NBA roster. With 15 available spots and qualities like balance and diversity in roster creation considered pivotal, it’s easy to see why some are skeptical of this impartial construction. But it’s really no big deal, in fact it’ll likely bear out to be a positive.

Last season, the Nets came into the season with four point guards, but just two of them offered NBA-level production. Outside of Williams and Jack were Darius Morris, who has played for five NBA and two D-League teams in his four years of pro ball and Jorge Gutierrez, who played sparingly before being traded to the Bucks early in the season.

This wouldn’t be an issue if these two stayed relegated to the pine, but beyond the scope of anticipation, the Nets saw Williams sit out games due to soreness, only to come back, struggle and get seated for a lengthier stretch thanks to a rib injury. In his absence, Jack was forced to play a host of 38-minute plus games with Morris has his backup. The Nets were outscored by double-digits per 100 possessions with Morris on the floor, yet he was forced to play over 12 minutes a night in January.

Williams is 31 now, hasn’t played an 80-game season since 2008 and has only played one 70-game season in the past five. Jack has remained relatively injury-free, but is turning 32 in October. Coach Hollins could try to prevent future injuries by resting his elder statesmen, but he doesn’t believe in the practice. So naturally, signing more point guards (that can hold their own) is a smart way of avoiding this issue down the line. And so GM Billy King did, with Blake still capable as a third guard despite his age and Larkin showing promising signs with the Knicks last year. Boatright’s a project, a low-risk high-reward acquisition, so short of a massive, unprecedented injury plague or Linsanity-esque surprise he likely won’t be a factor.

Insurance isn’t the only reason obtaining these points guards makes sense. Last season, Hollins experimented heavily with a Williams-Jack backcourt. Dual point guard pairings have become increasingly popular in today’s NBA, so watching Hollins try out a modern basketball development was a pleasant sight. What wasn’t pleasant was the combo’s performance. Brooklyn was outscored by 10.3 points per 100 possessions in 661 minutes when Williams and Jack shared the floor.

Hopefully this doesn’t dissuade Hollins from trying out more two point guard lineups, because they can be effective with the right personnel. And the Nets might just have that. Larkin is quick enough to match strides with the many blistering ones the league has to offer, which can’t be said of Williams, Jack or Blake. Pair him with Williams or Blake - someone who can spread the floor and hide defensively on a shooting guard - and we could see positive results.

The Nets still have holes at other positions, namely the backup five spot, but one trade can easily amend those. At the end of the day, if Brooklyn’s worst problem this summer was stockpiling one too many players at a position held back by injury and poor play, as opposed to gifting assets in a delusional pursuit of a championship, there shouldn’t be much opposition to chalking this up as a win.


Summer League Shorthand: Nets vs. Heat

The first win of the summer for the Brooklyn Nets was snatched away by a game-winning layup by Miami’s Tyler Johnson with 0.4 seconds left. The winless summer league squad showed an expected lack of cohesion, but there were some interesting moments for Brooklyn fans to take note of.

  • Earl Clark continues to struggle as the veteran on the roster. After playing 14 minutes yesterday, Clark lost his starting spot and had just two field goals against Miami.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson showed off some unexpected offense with a few mid-range jumpers and some ball handling off pick-and-roll situations. As the 23rd pick, we knew that he was an elite defender, but the shooting and confidence on the ball bodes well for his chances in the NBA.
  • The summer is usually a tough time for frontcourt players to stand out in front of scouts and coaches because of the fast pace, but the Nets were outplayed down low. Miami’s Willie Reed scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting while also outperforming Brooklyn’s bigs on the boards.
  • Jonathon Simmons, a swingman from the Austin Spurs in the D-League, earned the most minutes for the Nets, despite not playing on Saturday or starting against Miami. He scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds, but his moments of athleticism were what stood out, including a devastating block on Justice Winslow that was unfortunately ruled a foul.
  • Ryan Boatright can score in bunches. The Connecticut rookie lit up the Heat to start the third quarter with three straight 3-pointers to get the Nets back in the game. He finished with 23 points on 50 percent shooting while also picking up four assists. As one of the only players on the team that can create his own shot, he could continue to impress.
  • Outside of Boatright, the Nets have struggled to score in the halfcourt. Without a pass-first point guard or multiple shot creators, this summer’s team has relied on hustle and athleticism to stay in games so far.

The Nets continue the Orlando Summer League when they take on the Hornets on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.


Nets Sign Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin

As rumors fly about Lamarcus Aldridge and Dwyane Wade agrees to a contract with the Heat the Nets have made two quietly under the radar move. The first reported deal of the day for the Nets was a two year 3.0 million contract for Shane Larkin with a 1.5 million player option after year one. Next came Thomas Robinson who signed for a similar two-year deal with a player option on year two, with his contract coming in at a reported 2.2 million total. It seems that the Nets are using the Mid-Level to sign both of these guys, but it’s possible one is being signed to the Mini-Mid Level; either way this adds (slightly) to the Nets already large tax bill.

Former 18th overall pick Larkin is still only 22, and hopefully he can earn minutes as another backup point guard if the Nets want to move Jarrett Jack off the ball, or just avoid playing Jarrett Jack. The Nets had tried to sign Robinson in midseason before Philly swooped in at the last minute, and after only three seasons in the league the Nets are hoping to resuscitate the former 5th overall picks value. Both of these moves are good low-risk moves for the Nets organization, and continues this off-season’s trend of adding youth and athleticism.


Report: Nets Re-Sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young

According to, who else, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets were one of the first teams to strike in free agency, re-signing big men Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

Lopez will earn $60 million over three years, with the third year reportedly a player option. The deal also “includes some protections for the Nets should a recurrence of Lopez’s past foot issues sideline him again,” according to Woj. Good news there.

Young will earn $50 million over four years, or $12.5 million per, which at this point looks like a steal given what he did for Brooklyn this season and the direction the cap is headed in. Spoiler: up. Big time.

Keep updated through Brooklyn’s free agent dealings at BK’s Finest.