All right fam, I sat on this preview long enough. The season is nigh and it seems that if James Harden won’t be joining the Brooklyn Nets (prays to the God of Editors that I don’t need to rewrite this), and we’re at a position where we can focus on the Nets’ other luminary players — Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince. I kid! We all know I’m a Jarret Allen stan.
[loads up the the ol’ roster-nator] [giggles at the word “roster-nator”]
How am I supposed to find information on Kyrie Irving? ALEXA! WHAT’S A DURANTULA?
ENYWHEY, faithful Razzball readers might know me as the pitcher ranker on the baseball side, and the quarterback ranker on the football side (and the guy who writes the Razzbowl fan fiction), and now you get good ‘ol Blair giving you hot taeks on the basketball side for 2020-21. So, without risking the 24-second clock running down to zero here, let’s take a look at the hottest team in the NBA for 2021.
Personally, I’m not much for listing “starters” for fantasy purposes. You want minutes per game, right? So let’s break this team down by position and see where the backups fall. And the short answer to that is: two players are guaranteed minutes, and the rest are in time share. It’s like being on the junior high team with the coaches’ kids, right? The Nets squad should be best seen as an upside squad with huge volatility. Their top two stars — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — haven’t played together under this system and are both coming off of season-ending injuries. Additionally, the team is working under first-time manger Steve Nash. There might be a learning curve as the team learns to mesh and refresh their court legs. Give the Nets some time before giving up on them — or buying all in! As a final note, a ton of the players below have been mentioned in trade rumors, so don’t be surprised if some/any/none of these players move near the start of the season. There’s a non-zero chance James Harden ends up on the team and blows this whole article up, so, you’ll get version 2.0 if that happens.
Kevin Durant — Durantula finished as the fourth-best player in fantasy basketball in the 2018-19 campaign before rupturing his achilles tendon in game 5 of the NBA Finals in 2019. His regularly scheduled return occurred during the Covid shutdown, so he’s had extra time to recover (from his ankle, not Covid!). However, he’s 32 years old and coming off one of the harshest injuries possible, with NBA.com listing a number of luminary players –including DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Kobe Bryant — who ruptured their Achilles and never came back to their previous level of competition. Durant’s going 11th according to ADP on the National Fantasy Championships right now, and Son has Durant as his #16 overall player for 2021 fantasy basketball. If Durant is reasonably healthy, he probably plays close to Son’s predicted 34 minutes per game, but I think it’s wise to temper expectations, which is a much smarter thing to do than expecting tempers. If you’re taking Durant at #11, it means you’re missing out on somebody like Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, or Paul George — you know, players who aren’t coming off a career-altering ankle injury on a brand new team landscape. So if you’re drafting at the end of round 1, you might want to grab the sure thing first and see if Durant falls to you early in the second. What would you rather have — Durant and Kyrie go 1/2, or Kawhi and Durant? See what I mean?
Kyrie Irving — It’s like I’m previewing a brand new team! Kyrie sat out most of this first year with the Brooklyn Nets with a shoulder injury, ultimately having surgery in February. With the Covid delays and the late start, Kyrie will be nearly ten months healed from shoulder surgery when he takes the court again, and most pundits have no concern about his health. Son has Kyrie ranked 18th overall, and he should be a plus contributor to every category except blocks. From Cleveland to Boston to Brooklyn, Kyrie’s ratios have been incredibly consistent but not necessarily drool-worthy. He’s basically the Chipotle of fantasy basketball: you ask for spicy and you get something that tastes like hot guacamole, but day in and day out, you know it’s there for you (except, you know, when Chipotle has shoulder surgery). In his short stint in Brooklyn last year saw him scoring more points than any time in his career. If you’re looking for upside in the second round, Kyrie’s an excellent option. If you’re looking for Kyrie in the first round, you should probably just hand me $20 instead of joining my fantasy basketball league.
Spencer Dinwiddie — Outside of Kyrie’s 20 games last year, Dinwiddie led the Nets in minutes per game, free throws per game, assists per game, and scoring per game. Whew! You know that job you had in high school where you literally did everything the manager asked and then watched all your slacker friends get promoted over you? Yeah, Dinwiddie might be hosed this year. Everybody on this list after Kyrie is basically in a timeshare, which is good for real life basketball, but bad for your fantasy love life. Dinwiddie split his time between point guard and shooting guard and looks to move almost exclusively to shooting guard depending on Kyrie Irving’s health. If Kyrie and Durant are fully healthy and shooting well, you could expect Dinwiddie to split time with Caris LeVert at shooting guard while spelling Kyrie at point. With competition for minutes and scoring opportunities, Dinwiddie takes a hit in fantasy value, and Son has him ranked 188th overall. Dinwiddie becomes a good free agent target in case of injuries, and is a good FLEX play in best ball leagues. <<– That’s me hedging. But for cereal, Dinwiddie could play 20mpg, or he could play 30mpg. His main competition is [checks notes]…
Caris LeVert — When asked whether James Harden would be joining the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant said they were done pursuing a trade and instead praised teammate LeVert and called him “perfect” for the Nets’ system. LeVert takes the edge for shooting guard duties and might sneak some minutes at small forward (and he’s 2/3 eligible on Yahoo). LeVert has more of a scoring and defensive profile than Dinwiddie, and he could see bigger minutes if Durant’s praise has any sway with Coach Nash. Ranked 162nd overall by Son, LeVert has a solid floor in an ideal health scenario, and huge upside if he plays 30mpg with Durant and Kyrie. He could also get Dinwiddie’d and play 20mpg. My dynasty leagues are already sweating at the thought of rostering LeVert.
Jarret Allen / DeAndre Jordan — Son has them ranked pretty close to each other and Jarret Allen is going about 3 rounds earlier than DeAndre Jordan at the NFC right now. Sound like a trend? Allen looks to have the slight edge in minutes per game at center. Their profiles are remarkably similar, with Jordan having the edge in rebounds and assists and Allen having the edge in blocks. They’re both efficient shooters, but in a Kyrie/Durant offense, their scoring opportunities will probably be volatile depending on the opposing defense. With Allen the 23rd ranked center and Jordan the 27th ranked center by Son, you’re looking at them as your 3rd center toward the end of standard drafts. They’re the kind of player you either stash on the bench or stream through your lineup depending on what stats you need. However, if one of them gets injured or in favor with Coach Nash, you could see a huge return on draft investment. <<– I write this about 6 more times in this article. It’s not foreshadowing…it’s just timeshare.
Taurean Prince / Joe Harris — Prince and Harris look to compete for minutes at the small forward position. Last year, Prince was the primary power forward on the Nets while Harris was the primary small forward. With Durant’s arrival, Prince will compete with Harris (haven’t had to say that since the 1997 Grammys) at small forward, limiting both of their upsides. They played a ton of minutes last year — Harris playing the most on the team and Prince playing the third most — and Harris is the superior player in my opinion. Harris is a much more efficient shooter and provides nearly the same defensive stats as Prince. However, together they’re paid $30 million a year, and it seems like the Nets plan to go with a 1A/1B approach here. They re-signed Harris, and have stated publicly that they’re not interested in trading Prince. With the volatility of two superstars and a new coach, the small forward position is another position on the Nets that could show a favored player early in the season. For your draft, however, they’re the kind of players you take a flier on in the last rounds.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — Garrett Temple took huge minutes at point last year, and with Kyrie healthy, he wasn’t needed on the Nets in 2021. Luwawu-Cabarrot looks to back up almost every position except center, and he’s an efficient shooter who grabs nearly 5 boards per 36 minutes. Only problem is, he’s not gonna play 36 minutes behind all the guys who I’ve already listed. He could get 25+ minutes in short bursts, but it will take a lot of injuries for him to see regular court time. That’s basically the story of my NBA prospects as well — only 10 million people to get injured before coach puts me in! [checks covid numbers] Uhhhhh….
Landry Shamet — The Nets traded away their first round pick to acquire Shamet, who can also backup the guard and small forward positions. The Nets seem to have their bases covered should Kyrie or Durant demonstrate that they’re not fully recovered. That said, Shamet is a score-first player that does add a little bit of defensive peripherals, but he’ll compete against Kyrie, Dinwiddie, LeVert, Harris, Prince, and Luwawu-Cabarrot for playing time. That took too long to write out. Never draft somebody who requires more injuries to happen than you have fingers on your hand…unless you’re a one-fingered basketballer, in which case, thumbs up to you!
Jeff Green — Green played huge minutes for Houston last year, racking up nearly 30mpg in the playoffs. At 34 and owed only 2.5 million in salary on a one-year contract, Green is the default backup at center and power forward. He probably won’t get enough minutes to be fantasy viable this year unless injuries happen (sound familiar?).
Nets Championship Run?
Steve Nash has already made it clear that he’s chasing a championship this year, and the Nets’ front office trading away their first round pick demonstrates their commitment to win right now. As a fan watching TV, that will be great. As a fantasy player, it could be disastrous. The Brooklyn Nets are a deep team, which is tough for fantasy upside should everybody stay healthy and in favor with the coaches (which is, after all, what we all want in real life). If you’re taking Allen or Harris or Prince or Dinwiddie, you’re looking at a time share, which gives you a solid fantasy floor but not a ton of fantasy upside. What you want, is clarity. Now, you can either buy my 8-CD program on meditating with metal music, or you can keep clarity by grabbing Nets very late in the draft or off the waiver wire and seeing how things unfold.
If you have questions, drop them in the comments, and I’ll be happy to power up the ol’ Gateway computer and see what I can find on Infoseek for ya!
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.