Which players on the Nets roster will be a part of their regular rotation, and what will their roles be?
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Seth Curry
SF Royce O’Neale
PF Kevin Durant
C Ben Simmons
DEEP BENCH – VETERANS
DEEP BENCH – DEVELOPING YOUTH
LIKELY TO BE WAIVED
Assuming they want to play basketball and can remain healthy, Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant will be starting. The two open spots around them can be filled in a variety of ways. Seth Curry started last year at shooting guard and provides excellent outside shooting, floor spacing, and underrated playmaking. But pairing Curry with Irving leaves the Nets undersized and deficient defensively in the backcourt. The other option to start opposite Irving is Joe Harris, who was the starter last year before he got hurt and before Curry was acquired. Harris is a dead-eye shooter who has more size than Curry but isn’t as quick and doesn’t have as deft of a handle.
Royce O’Neal will likely start at small forward. The defensive-minded O’Neale is a good complement to the Nets’ explosive scorers; he is a great glue-guy and played a similar role in Utah over the past few seasons. Lingering, however, is TJ Warren. The last time we saw Warren, he was dominating the bubble for the Pacers, scoring at will. But that was two years ago and Warren has been out injured since. If he can return to form, he gives them the option to go with an offensive weapon at that position against some of the bette defensive teams in the league who can somewhat neutralize Durant and Irving. The team could also go big by having Simmons and Durant handle the forward positions while either Nic Claxton or Day’Ron Sharpe man the pivot. This would help their rebounding and interior defense, while sacrificing outside shooting.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ben Simmons hasn’t played NBA basketball since completely imploding mentally in the 76ers’ loss to the Hawks in the 2021 playoffs. There are legitimate questions regarding whether Simmons can be counted on in key moments of big games and whether he’ll ever get past what seems to be a complete inability to convert shots, from both the field and the free throw line. At this point, he is a complete wildcard.
The Nets have some interesting young prospects (e.g. Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, Kessler Edwards) but we’d be remiss not to highlight Kyrie Irving in this category. Irving has a bizarre career, which can best be described as both spectacular and completely unreliable. Irving is in the last year of his contract, something that would typically be an intrinsic motivating factor for most players; Irving, however, beats to his own drum and won’t necessarily always behave logically. He’s also endured a series of injuries over the years. However, when he’s healthy and focused, he’s a major problem for opposing defenses and he clearly won’t shy away from taking big shots in pressure situations.