Why Brooklyn Nets must avoid the all-defensive team free agent
If Brooklyn Nets fans have learned anything over the past two years, it’s that piling big names next to each other on a roster won’t guarantee you a championship. With injuries playing a big part and some chemistry issues as well, Brooklyn didn’t even make it past the first round last year, even brandishing an all-star roster.
While the team still looks well-equipped to challenge for a title this season with blockbuster talent Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons at the helm, the buck stops there. A few big-name free agents remain unsigned, but the Nets can’t let that sell them at fair value, with one player specifically looking bad for the Nets.
Why the Brooklyn Nets shouldn’t sign Eric Bledsoe
With the Portland Trail Blazers cutting him in March, Eric Bledsoe has persisted for months as one of the most exciting names in the free agent market. The explosive veteran plays hard, runs like a muscle car and has been named to two NBA All-Defensive Teams in the past three years.
However, it doesn’t make much sense for the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn indeed needs depth at point guard. Behind Kyrie Irving, the team lacks a ball handler with Patty Mills, Edmond Sumner and Cam Thomas all playing more of a combo-guarding role. While Simmons knows how to execute an offense, it makes more sense for him to downplay how Brooklyn’s roster is currently constructed.
So, theoretically, a turning point exists for Bledsoe. However, that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean the team has to sign him.
Unable to shoot from deep on a clip over 35% since his 2015-16 campaign, while averaging at least 3.5 attempts per game each of those seasons, Bledsoe does not possess enough 3-point shooting prowess to stretch the floor.
Fielding five or at least four players who can threaten from deep keeps defenders on their toes and opens up scoring opportunities for your attack. Any team that doesn’t participate in this “stretch the ground” strategy is a living dinosaur these days – certain to be left in the dust by every other offense in the NBA.
With Brooklyn, finding spacing between Simmons and the other big names on the team, Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe, will be a pretty big challenge. Adding a ball-dominant and not ground-dominant spacer like Bledsoe would only add to that. That’s why he and Giannis Antetokounmpo have never worked and will surely cause headaches in Brooklyn all the same.
While Simmons and Bledsoe hitting the hardwood at the same time is already out of the question, playing him alongside Claxton or Sharpe also promises to derail Brooklyn’s offense.
With Ben10’s height and size, playing it five allows Brooklyn to stretch the ground one-four further. For now, you can solve the team spacing dilemma this way.
But Bledsoe only spans six-foot-one. Playing center isn’t an option for him, so any lineup featuring him will force Brooklyn to send Claxton or Sharpe. This will reduce Brooklyn’s potential number of floor spacers to three and make things easier for an opposing defense.
While some might consider Markieff Morris a shooting center capable of hitting the ground running with Bledsoe and making him effective as a result, Keef shot just 31.1% from three in his last full season with the Los Lakers. Angeles. Last year he only played 17 games due to injury and in those competitions he shot 33.3% from deep.
Unfortunately, trusting Morris to play big minutes at center isn’t something the Nets can do right now, shutting the door on Bledsoe as well. It’s a shame, because Bledsoe’s driving and hitting skills would work well alongside guys like Seth Curry, Patty Mills and Joe Harris. But when you look beyond the shooters, Brooklyn’s roster doesn’t match Bledsoe’s style of play.
While Brooklyn does indeed need more depth at point guard behind Uncle Drew, they better go in another direction. Making Cam Thomas a true playmaker or looking for a rough diamond still available in free agency are solid starting points.