If talent truly trumps all, the Brooklyn Nets will waltz to the 2022 NBA title. That is, unless they’re tripped up by injury (again) or vaccine mandates…or maybe the Earth turning out to be flat after all. But, more importantly, which Nets will help your fantasy team waltz to a title? Let’s dig into the roster. (All ADPs as of October 12, 2021, courtesy of Fantasy Pros)
James Harden (No. 2 overall) and Kevin Durant (No. 8 overall) need no introduction. They’ve been surefire first-rounders for a decade or more, and have both been in the mix for the top overall spot in their storied careers. Not much has changed after the 2021 season, when Durant came back stronger than anyone in history from an Achilles tear, and Harden proved he could fit in when he put his mind to it. The only reason KD isn’t higher on average is due to concerns over playing time, whether due to injury or load management. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger anywhere in Round 1, but cautious managers will have plenty of other strong options if they so desire.
The Nets finally provided some clarity on the Kyrie Irving-sized elephant in the room. The mercurial point guard will not join the team until he is in compliance with New York’s vaccine mandate, meaning his fantasy stock (No. 47 and falling) has plummeted faster than Ben Simmons’ trade value. IF he plays, he’s a first rounder on a per-game basis. But do you want to deal with that headache? Especially if he isn’t granted IL status?? Even his own team has said “No thanks”.
The Reliable Cogs
Joe Harris (No. 119) and Bruce Brown (No. 228) will likely get the nod as starters. Neither is exciting, but both can help a team. Harris is a 3-point specialist, and one of the best in the game. He can round out your roster if you need treys after Round 10. Brown should go undrafted, even as a starter on a dominant team. He’s got some utility as a guy who can contribute out-of-position rebounds and FG percentage with some steals upside, but his role projects to be too small to be worth even a late-round flier outside deep leagues.
The Ring Chasers
No matter who starts, who comes off the bench, and who finishes, Blake Griffin (No. 186), LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 193), and Paul Millsap (No. 219) will cannibalize each other’s value all season long. Don’t bother drafting any of them.
Patty Mills (No. 265) is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Irving saga. He should have a similar role as he did in San Antonio as a spark plug off the bench. If the Nets stagger Durant and Harden he’ll be off the ball a little more, but he’s always been an end-of-the-bench staple in 12-team leagues, and that should be the way he’s viewed in 2022.
James Johnson (No. 322) has always had a fantasy-friendly game, but at this point he’s little more than a part-time enforcer. He can be safely ignored.
Nic Claxton (No. 165) is the closest thing Brooklyn has to a fantasy “sleeper”. His talent is apparent, but his path to relevant playing time is littered with veteran bigs with glittering resumes. Still, Claxton may prove to be the most impactful of the Nets’ big men—especially defensively—so he’s a name to monitor. If he gets 20-plus minutes a game, he will have some value.
Jevon Carter (NR) gets on the radar just because Irving’s loss means he’ll probably see the court at least a little bit. That’s not enough to make him viable in fantasy.
Rookies Cameron Thomas (No. 304) and Day’Ron Sharpe (NR) give the Nets some young legs. With so many big men ahead of him on the depth chart, Sharpe will probably be irrelevant all season. Thomas is intriguing, as a first-round pick with a bucket-getting reputation. With Irving shelved, Brooklyn is down one major bucket-getter. That being said, with so many veteran contributors available, Thomas likely won’t get enough reps to matter in fantasy.