The Brooklyn Nets played their first game after their star Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury on January 12 against the Boston Celtics. Brooklyn lost 109-98 to the Celtics, but the game was a lot closer than the box score would suggest. The Nets received welcome news that their superstar forward is likely to only play for a month with his sprained MCL. After their first game without Durant, Brooklyn’s depth stood out. Kyrie Irving praised the depth of the Nets roster in the post-game press conference following Durant’s injury on Jan. 8.
In Durant’s absence, Brooklyn got an added boost from TJ Warren, who has scored 20 goals and continues to look good on his return from injury. Joe Harris also had his best game of the year, dropping 18 points and hitting four threes that night. Her depth was evident in every position except center. The Nets struggled in the minutes when Nic Claxton was off the ground, and the story of the Nets needing big-man depth all season was evident in KD’s absence. As the trading deadline approaches, this is the need that the Nets are most likely to address.
On January 11th Linked to Greg Swartz from Bleacher’s report the Nets to two big men who could solve their problems on the apron, San Antonio Spurs’ 7-foot-1 center Jakob Poeltl and Utah Jazz’s 6-foot-11 forward Kelly Olynyk.
“Besides Nic Claxton, Brooklyn doesn’t have many reliable big men to turn to, which will be a problem if they face bigger teams like the Milwaukee Bucks or Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs.
Poeltl is a good inside goalscorer, defender and willing ball mover who would pair well with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and others. Olynyk is also a talented passer who can bring a new dynamic to the apron with his outside shot (41.3 percent), which would be especially important if Ben Simmons continues to ignore the three-point line,” writes Swartz.
The nets need help bouncing. You are currently 29th place in the league overall league rebound. Poeltl averages 9.5 rebounds per game for the Spurs, but also scores over 12 points per game and blocks a shot per game. Olynyk doesn’t quite come up with quite the same numbers averaging 5 rebounds per contest for the Jazz, but he still brings depth to the big man position the Nets desperately need.
On Jan. 7, Heavy Sports reported from a league management source that the Nets might consider trading power forwards at the close. If they’re not looking at center, a versatile power forward could be their answer.
“The Nets are definitely looking for a deal, but they want to bring in a star who can play alongside what they have. They would be in the market for a power-forward type, maybe a rebounder,” the Heavy Sports manager suggested.
The networks have not been linked to a lack of power forwards as the trading deadline approaches. Kyle Kuzma, John Collins, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jae Crowder and Bojan Bogdanovic were all named as potential pieces to add depth to the Brooklyn forecourt.
In Swartz’ January 11 Bleacher Report article, which linked Poeltl and Olynyk to the Nets, Swartz included Crowder in potential plays that could find a home at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“Crowder gives Brooklyn a playoff-proven wing who can play and defend both forward positions and should be well-rested while away from the Phoenix Suns all season.
If the Nets can survive Kevin Durant’s MCL sprain and add another piece by deadline, this is a championship-caliber team,” Swartz continued.