Predicting the Roles and Impact of Each Brooklyn Nets Newcomer This Season
This was not an easy offseason for the Brooklyn Nets to navigate.
When you're well over the salary cap, adding pieces is always difficult. Add in the losses of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston, two critical players in last year's turnaround, and the Nets were going to be fighting an uphill battle this offseason either way.
It's not all doom and gloom in Brooklyn, though. To supplement aging talents like Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson, the Nets brought in some youth.
Having an owner willing to spend still has its advantages, even with a salary cap, as the Nets were able to purchase some draft picks that could bring some serious athleticism to the table.
Let's take a look at those picks, as well as the other new faces on Brooklyn's roster, and predict the roles and impact each new player will have on the team for the 2014-15 season.
After Shaun Livingston left via free agency to the Golden State Warriors for more money than the Nets could have offered, replacing his production became critical.
While Jarrett Jack isn't nearly the defender Livingston is, he could offer up a different element offensively as a backup guard.
Here's Fred Katz with more for Bleacher Report:
Even while scoring at career-low rates across the board last season, Jack actually did well on spot-up shots, posting a 56.0 percent adjusted field-goal percentage on those opportunities, per Synergy Sports (subscription required). Jack can provide more spacing than the ill-shooting Livingston, whom defenders are complacent to leave off the ball in order to help teammates.
Jack isn't the same as Livingston, but if last year was simply an aberration, the Nets have someone who could potentially outperform the former backup this season, especially considering the injury-prone Livingston has already started his season off key.
The Nets clearly lost defensive value, but we've got years of evidence saying Jack is one of the NBA's best backup point guards: the 15.0 PER over the past five seasons, the 54.5 percent career true shooting, the bench energy in Golden State, New Orleans, Toronto, Portland and Indiana.
Jack's shooting should be helpful, and his ability to run a team could come into play if Deron Williams and his ankles prove to be unreliable.
More than just about any other team, the Nets needed a solid backup guard who could play both positions, and Jack can do that.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Jack is called into action more than you'd expect a typical backup point guard would. A good handful of starts and around 30 minutes a game sounds about right.
If you're a Nets fan, you've probably heard his name kicked around for a few years now. Bojan Bogdanovic will finally play with the team this season, and his progress at small forward could be huge with Pierce suiting up for the Washington Wizards.
Here's Ohm Youngmisuk at ESPNNewYork.com:
The Brooklyn Nets' long wait for Bojan Bogdanovic is over.
The team officially signed the Croatian forward to a three-year deal on Tuesday. The contract is worth $10 million, according to league sources.
"Having drafted Bojan in 2011, it is rewarding to finally welcome him to the Nets," general manager Billy King said in a team statement. "We obviously have a high regard for his game, and we are glad he will now bring that talent to Brooklyn."
Bogdanovic, 25, spent the last three seasons with Fenerbahçe Ülker in the Turkish Basketball League. He averaged 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 30.6 minutes per game during the 2013-14 Euroleague season.
While it's dangerous to assume that Bogdanovic's decent salary will earn him playing time, the Nets aren't paying him to ride the bench.
He should get a fair crack at minutes, so long as he proves he can defend up to the caliber new head coach Lionel Hollins desires.
Bogdanovic's path to playing time at small forward is a little crowded with Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson and even Joe Johnson in smaller lineups set to receive some minutes at the 3, but he could certainly earn time.
Bogdanovic's best skill is his scoring ability, so it would make sense if he played opposite of guys like "Iso Joe" Johnson and Deron Williams and instead spent most of his time with the second unit so he could have the ball in his hands more often.
Bojan Bogdanovic should have some competition on the wing in former first-round pick Sergey Karasev.
Here's Jonathan Tjarks' analysis of Karasev at SB Nation:
At 6'7 and 200 pounds with a 6'9 wingspan, he is somewhat of a tweener physically. He doesn't have the speed to be a starting shooting guard and he'll need to add some weight to be a starting small forward. However, given his age, he should have no problem adding weight to his frame. Either way, he has the savvy to survive defensively, especially on a second unit early in his career.
Karasev's game is built around his shooting ability. This season, he shot 49 percent from three on 4.6 attempts a game. He can't be given space even 25 feet from the basket. While he doesn't have an elite first step, the threat of his jumper gives him lanes to the basket.
For a wing player, he's also an excellent passer with a good feel for the game. As a result, he's the rare elite shooter who can have offense run through him.
This should be an interesting position battle to watch, as Karasev could spend time backing up both the 2 and the 3 throughout the season.
Karasev shot nearly 40 percent from deep in his time in the D-League last year, so he should certainly help space the floor if nothing else.
Pierce provided the Nets with a lot of their spacing last year, and Karasev's deep range could do the same. Combined with Mirza Teletovic, the Nets could have quite the three-point shooting frontcourt if they played together.
The big question will be how well Karasev holds up defensively, but with Brook Lopez back in the fold, the Nets will need to keep the floor spread for him as much as possible.
Karasev will have to really fight for minutes, and Bogdanovic will likely be given most of the leftover scraps.
Karasev's impact may be more down the line, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he stumbled into playing time and a role like Teletovic did last year. If you can shoot, you can play.
Markel Brown wasn't one of the biggest names in this year's draft, as he was largely overshadowed at Oklahoma State by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
Brown is an awfully intriguing player, however, in large part because he's such a good athlete with impressive length.
Here's Mike Mazzeo at ESPNNewYork.com with more on Brown:
Markel Brown sees himself becoming a 'Russell Westbrook-type player,' an explosive 6-3 combo guard who can get to the rim and finish.
"I’ve never worked out with [Russell], but I’ve had the opportunity to see him a couple times, and he’s someone who’s given me a lot of advice," Brown, the first of three second-round picks acquired by the Brooklyn Nets on draft night, said Friday.
"He’s someone who pretty much had the same role as me at college, he played with Darren Collison and Kevin Love [at UCLA] and he didn’t really stand out as much playing with those guys, but he’s someone who transitioned in the NBA and became a superstar."
It probably goes without saying that Brown isn't on the same level as Westbrook, but how he defines himself as a combo guard is interesting.
The Nets could use some quickness and athleticism behind Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack, and Brown can provide that.
Given the injury history of Williams, occupying that third point guard slot means Brown will probably be pressed into action at some point. If he can beat out Marquis Teague in preseason, Brown should get some time.
It's always a good sign when a team buys a pick to get you. More likely than not, though, Brown should shuttle back and forth between the D-League and the Brooklyn roster this season.
Cory Jefferson was Mr. Irrelevant in this year's draft, but he could provide a skill that the Nets really seem to need.
Here's Daniel LoGiudice for NetsDaily.com:
No doubt Brooklyn is desperate for effective rebounding. Last season, the Nets ranked 29th in total rebounding and they were outrebounded by 4.8 rebounds per game. Only the Lakers had a worse differential.
Brook Lopez has a history of poor rebounding numbers and an aging Kevin Garnett seemed to lack the tenacity on the offensive boards last season. Although he would have led the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage if had played enough minutes, his offensive rebounding was wanting and has been headed downhill for years. Young power forwards Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic have yet to show they can effectively rebound.
Whether Lionel Hollins could use Jefferson as a rebounding specialist is up to him but the Nets desperately need help rebounding and Jefferson has the physical tools if not the experience or bulk.
It's unclear whether the Nets will bring on another guaranteed salary at the veteran's minimum to fill out the roster, as Jefferson is only partially guaranteed for this season. He may have to impress right away in training camp, lest a veteran take his spot.
The good news is, Jefferson has the athleticism and motor to really win some fans on the coaching staff.
The Nets severely lack his kind of explosiveness, and it's doubtful a veteran free agent will be able to provide more of that.
Here's guessing Jefferson ends up floating between the D-League and the big roster, similar to fellow second-round pick Markel Brown.
If Jefferson embraces his role as a hustle guy who rebounds and runs the floor, he could stick at some point.