Breaking Down the Brooklyn Nets' Revamped Bench
The 2012-13 Brooklyn Nets' bench is a mixed bag of youth and veteran experience, considerable strengths and glaring weaknesses.
The Nets top three options off the bench—MarShon Brooks, Mirza Teletovic, and C.J. Watson—could all be 6th men or even starters on a number of NBA squads.
However, this core three has some issues of its own and the quality of play further down the Nets bench is considerably suspect.
Undoubtedly, the Nets will have one of the better and more versatile benches in the NBA next season. The following segment provides a critical look at each Nets bench player.
Backup Point Guard: CJ Watson
Strengths: Five-year veteran point guard CJ Watson will be an excellent second-unit floor general for the Nets next season.
The 28-year-old Watson brings invaluable experience to an otherwise young Nets second unit. He started 25 games on the Chicago Bulls in 2011-12.
Watson's playing style also suits the Nets offensive scheme, which will rely on up-tempo, perimeter-orientated play. His "spark plug" playing style off the bench generated nine points and four assists in just over 23 minutes of play last year.
Notably, Watson will spread the floor nicely for the Nets, shifting between playmaker and three-point sharpshooter. Last year, Watson averaged 39 percent from the three-point line based on 3.5 attempts a night.
A strong defender, Watson will lock down opposing second-unit guards next season.
Weaknesses: Watson's playing style relies on high-volume shooting. His scoring output was based on nine shots a game in limited minutes.
He will have to curb his role on the Nets at times to defer to other second-unit scoring options on the floor (Brooks, Teletovic), as well as when he is paired with starters.
If Watson cannot do this, then expect to see him execute excessive broken plays that will frustrate the Nets offense.
Backup Shooting Guard / Point Guard: MarShon Brooks
Strengths: Brooks averaged 12 points a game in his 2011-12 rookie campaign as the Nets starting 2-guard. He also assumed some play-making responsibilities, in which he tallied a respectable 2.3 dimes per game.
The 22-year-old Brooks is a deft ball handler who can get to wherever he wants on the floor and score in a variety of ways. In spots where isolation plays are required, Brooks will be the strongest option on the Nets second unit.
As the 31-year-old Joe Johnson's primary substitute, expect Brooks to often be the first player off the Nets bench. The speedy second-year guard has good chemistry with starter Deron Williams, and the two should be menacing off the fast break.
Weaknesses: Although it may be too soon to tell, Brooks could be a potentially erratic, high-volume shooter. Brooks shot only 42 percent from the field in 2011-12, and even more troubling, 30 percent off 3.2 three-point attempts a game.
Brooks may prove to remain overly reliant on taking his own three-point shots next season, rather than distributing the ball to more capable shooters when they are on the floor.
In order to succeed on the Nets offense that will often have four other capable scorers on the floor, Brooks may have to learn how to play better away from the ball.
Backup Power Forward/ Small Forward: Mirza Teletovic
Strengths: The recently acquired Euroleague star (21 PPG last season) is a 6'9" power forward with excellent shooting range.
Teletovic can score using isolation plays in the paint for turnaround jumpers, off the pick and roll, or from jump shots from the corners. He shot 43 percent from the three-point line last year.
Teletovic will provide some versatility to the Nets frontcourt. If the Nets want more scoring off the baseline, they may substitute him for Kris Humphries while keeping the rest of their starters on the floor.
Weaknesses: Whether Teletovic will be able to score in the low post against NBA competition has yet to be seen.
Teletovic may be relegated to taking long jumpers and threes from the corners next year. He will have to adjust to handling the ball less and taking fewer shots than he did when he was in the Euroleague.
The Bosnian forward is not a dynamic rebounder and his subpar lateral quickness will be exploited by faster, more athletic opposing forwards.
Backup Power Forward: Reggie Evans
Strengths: Rugged physical play in the low post. Evans is one of the best rebounders on a per-minute basis in the NBA. He averaged 4.5 boards in under 13 minutes last season. Evans will provide much-needed toughness to an otherwise finesse-based Nets squad.
Weaknesses: For all Evans' rebounding prowess, there is a reason Evans doesn't get a lot of playing time. He's a poor scorer (a career average four points a game), has a playing style prone to foul trouble, and is not a very good man-on-man defender.
Sadly, for the Nets, their lack of depth in the front court will probably force them to rely on Evans for longer stretches of time..
Opposing frontcourt offenses should be able to adjust for Evans as the season proceeds and exploit him down low for ample "and-one" scoring opportunities.
Backup Shooting Guard / Small Forward: Keith Bogans
Strengths: 31-year-old journeyman Keith Bogans will make his next stop with the Brooklyn Nets this season. He has a reputation as a positive locker-room presence (via ESPN.com), and should serve as a mentor to the Nets young second unit.
On the court, Bogans is solid defender who can play small forward against smaller opposing line-ups.
While an average offensive player overall, Bogans is a three-point threat: he has a career 35-percent average from beyond the arc.
Weaknesses: Bogans suffered both foot and ankle injuries that kept him out for the majority of the 2011-12 season. It's questionable whether the veteran guard will remain healthy throughout the year.
Backup Small Forward / Power Forward: Tornike Shengelia
Strengths: The 20-year-old Georgian rookie had a solid Las Vegas Summer League debut, where he averaged 10 points a game on 52-percent shooting.
A crafty low-post scorer with some shooting range, the 6'9" Shengelia could be inserted alongside Brook Lopez and Mirza Teletovic when the Nets want a bigger line-up with a bevy of mid-range scoring options.
Weaknesses: Shengelia is still a raw talent who is unproven against NBA quality competition. According to Draft Express, his interior defense and rebounding still needs improvement.
Shengelia also needs to work on protecting the basketball. He averaged three turnovers a game in just over 20 minutes of play in the Vegas summer league.
Backup Small Forward: Jerry Stackhouse
Strengths: Plagued by injuries since 2001, the now 37-year-old small forward will most likely end his career with the Brooklyn Nets, his fifth team in as many years.
Stackhouse's offensive numbers have been anemic since 2007.
However, what Stackhouse brings to the Nets is a wealth of experience from when he was an NBA All-Star and one of the best scorers in the game from 2000-2003.
In his prime, Stackhouse's greatest strength was creating his own shot off isolation plays. He should teach some of the Nets younger players his tools of the trade.
Weaknesses: Another experienced veteran who will see limited minutes due to age and injury limitations.
Backup Point Guard: Tyshawn Taylor
Strengths: According to The Draft Express's scouting reports, the 22-year-old rookie is a tenacious defender with good size and lateral quickness.
In his senior year at Kansas University, Taylor exhibited flashes of creating ability on the offensive end of the floor. He also has the ball-handling skills to effectively get to the rim.
As a Jayhawk, he averaged 16.6 points and 4.8 assists per game last season (via www.draftexpress.com).
Weaknesses: Despite some impressive offensive numbers, Taylor was drafted in the second round because of his inability to protect the ball. He averaged a glaring 3.5 turnovers in 2011-12 and struggled to make sound decisions when attacking the basket.
Given the Nets depth at the guard position, Taylor is likely to see very limited minutes this year. It would behoove him to learn from Williams and Watson, as Taylor may have the athletic ability to be successful NBA guard.
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