Brooklyn Nets: Don’t reach for a big man

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images /

The Brooklyn Nets’ interior play has been a mess, but is a trade the answer? Here’s why they shouldn’t reach for a big man.

It can be frustrating watching a team go through a rebuild. An early season 3-2 start with wins over the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers had some optimistic Brooklyn Nets fans thinking maybe this team was ahead of its rebuilding schedule.

Unfortunately after losing the last five of six, it seems the Nets have come back down to earth. Fans and league followers alike are realizing the rebuild is in fact, here to stay. With a rebuild comes a tendency to become impatient. I’m here to try and drive that pesky impatience away, Nets fans.

Now let’s clear something up about the Brooklyn Nets. Their interior play as been a problem this year. Brooklyn’s centers have averaged 12.2 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and a 96.8 offensive rating which rank 28th, 29th and 29th in the league, respectively.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brooklyn is giving up the most points in the league (116.2) and have already given up five 30+ point games to opposing frontcourt players. Three of those include Nikola Vucevic (41), Nikola Jokic (41), and Brook Lopez (34).

What’s been the issue with Brooklyn’s lack of presence down low? Is the issue starting center Timofey Mozgov? Let me answer for you by saying he’s definitely part of it. Mozgov’s per game averages this year are 5.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in just 15.9 minutes.

While those numbers should be very concerning for a center about to make $48 million over the next three years, I’d argue his stagnant, one-dimensional style of defense is the bigger issue. Mozgov either has an inability or an unwillingness to effectively leave the paint, close out on shooters, or guard the perimeter.


This is a simple pick-and-pop between Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez. Once Lopez gives the screen and looks to roll, he notices something… there’s no one there to guard him.

Mozgov is basically begging Brook to roll right into his comfort zone, but instead Lopez (who’s shooting 40 percent from 3-point range this year) takes a shuffle step to the top of key and hits an easy 3.


Once again you can see how easy it was for Lopez to find an open 3 with Mozgov on the floor.  Lonzo Ball makes a drive to the basket while being blanketed by D’Angelo Russell. Ball is a 29.9 percent shooter and someone who has vitally struggled so far to finish around the rim. Instead of forcing Ball to make a play around the rim, Mozgov sags to nearly the restricted zone, allowing Ball to easily take advantage of the double-team and find Brook.

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It’s obviously not all on Mozzy. You could bring up the injuries that have kept the likes of first round pick Jarrett Allen, Trevor Booker and Quincy Acy out of some games to start the year, and I’d agree with you here too.

These injuries have forced coach Kenny Atkinson’s hand a bit. It’s forced Tyler Zeller to try and eat more minutes, while also causing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to be the 5 in some JV version of an NBA small-ball lineup. Even when Allen comes back healthy, there’s still going to be a large learning curve that Nets fans are going to have to be patient with.

So yeah, the Nets have a big man problem. The obvious solution is going through available big men throughout the league and speculating how they’d fit with the Nets, but be careful doing that.

Before you buy into any Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor or even John Henson rumors, ask yourself a question: Is that trade going to fit with the plan Sean Marks has started to lay out? It’s hard envisioning a scenario where Marks will be willing to give up picks and/or young assets this early in the rebuilding process for a big man not guaranteed to be part of their future.

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If there’s a scenario where the Nets are able to find a team willing to take on a Mozgov/DeMarre Carroll contract without giving up future assets and still find a big man who will not only solve their woes but be a piece of their core moving forward, then sign me up. The problem is I don’t think that scenario exists right now. Be patient.