The Brooklyn Nets will open the 2018-2019 season away against the Detroit Pistons. Who will begin the game as a member of the starting five?
October 17th. That’s the day the 2018-2019 NBA season begins for the Brooklyn Nets. Not at home in Barclays Center, however, but away in Detroit at the Little Caesar’s Arena.
Brooklyn is looking to compete, and they’ll make that known right from the jump. Despite owning their own first-round pick for the first time in years, there will be no talk of tanking from the Nets.
Following the recent additions made in the summer’s offseason, who can fans expect to begin the game as a member of the Nets’ starting five?
Point Guard: D'Angelo Russell
Brooklyn’s franchise face left a lot to be desired following his 2017-2018 campaign. It was his first year with the Nets, after being acquired in July of 2017 for Brook Lopez and the draft rights to Kyle Kuzma.
D’Angelo Russell opened the year in full command of Brooklyn’s offense, averaging 20.1 points and 5.6 assists per game. That was over the Nets first 11-game stretch, in which they went 5-6.
Then, Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and missed 33 games. He didn’t return to the court until January and failed to produce at the same level consistently.
Still, he had that same ‘ice in my veins’ flare at times, including this 32-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in March.
Russell scored 24 points in the first quarter alone:
Since, he’s worked on building up his body strength, knowing how critical this season will be both for Brooklyn and his career.
With Spencer Dinwiddie as a backup, there’s no doubt as to if Russell will be starting for the Nets. He’s looking to lock himself in as a part of Brooklyn’s long-term plan, and the Nets want to see that he’s capable of leading them into that future.
Shooting Guard: Allen Crabbe
After signing an offer sheet from Brooklyn in 2016, which Portland matched, Allen Crabbe was traded to the Nets last summer.
His fifth career season was met with disappointment yet intrigue. Crabbe fell short for Brooklyn on multiple occasions, shooting inconsistently and poorly from three.
He finished his first season in Brooklyn with a bang, scoring 102 points over the team’s last four games. One of those, was this 41-point lights out shooting night against the Chicago Bulls:
He saw his three-point percentage drop from 44 percent in 2016 to 38 percent with Brooklyn. Nonetheless, the Nets still see the veteran guard as apart of their long-term plan.
They signed him to a four-year offer sheet in 2016, and he’s on their books at least until next summer, when he has a player option worth $18.5 million.
Crabbe’s ability to score at a high volume (albeit shoddy) partnered with his overall experience, will earn him the starting two slot come opening night.
Small Forward: DeMarre Carroll
Another veteran acquisition from the summer of 2017, DeMarre Carroll re-birthed his talent with the Nets last year.
He was acquired from Toronto with a first-round pick, in return for Justin Hamilton, who was waived almost immediately. Carroll was labeled a salary dump, and sooner than later proved that label wrong. He averaged a career-high 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over a team-high 73 games played.
Often the Nets best player, Carroll set himself a new career-high in points scored, with this 26-point outing against the Miami Heat:
A leader on and off the court, Carroll’s value to the Nets falls no shorter than starting small forward. As he enters what is likely his last season in Brooklyn (he’ll be free a agent in 2019), there’s no doubt he’ll return to his role as a starter.
Power Forward: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
The Brooklyn Nets longest-tenured player is a lock for the opening night starting five.
After an injury cost him potential candidacy for the Most Improved Player award last season, the third-year forward is arguably the most exciting Nets talent entering next season. Hollis-Jefferson averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game for Brooklyn.
He continues to expand his offensive repertoire while remaining one of the team’s best defenders. That much is evident when watching his highlights from a March win over Miami:
With veteran Kenneth Faried behind him on the depth chart, Hollis-Jefferson will start at power forward for the Nets on opening night.
Center: Jarrett Allen
To the surprise of none, sophomore center Jarrett Allen is a shoe-in for the starting job.
After starting his rookie year timidly and non-aggressive within the post, he took command of the paint following the All-Star break. And by taking command, Allen literally set out to posterize Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen into near-oblivion.
Of his 117 dunks last season, 7 of them came in this career-night against the Chicago Bulls:
Allen averaged 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds from February through the end of the year, providing highlight dunk one after the next.
Nothing’s to say he won’t be challenged for the starting job, as Brooklyn signed former Trail Blazer Ed Davis to a one year deal.
But the Nets are infatuated enough with “the Fro,” and trust him to defend against the opposing team’s best big man. He’ll be the last name introduced to Brooklyn’s starting five in Detroit.
D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Jarrett Allen.
This isn’t the Nets best five-man lineup, I’ll leave that for the analytics guys. But this is where Brooklyn will begin building their identity for the upcoming season.
See you October 17th.