Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

An in-depth look at the Brooklyn Nets forward position for the 2019-20 NBA season raises interesting questions, including the level of depth. 

The Brooklyn Nets enter the 2019-2020 season with many new additions at the forward position. Recently acquired Kevin Durant is the clear cut best forward on the team, but will most likely miss a big portion of the 2019-2020 NBA season, so the Nets must decide who will clear his absence in the meantime. 

In recent news, Rodions Kurucs was just accused of physically choking his ex-girlfriend back in June. His status on the team is in serious questions and he can either be suspended by the team and even be traded or released if these recent allegations are true. Still, for now, he is technically on the roster and is innocent until proven guilty. He is still an option for this team come opening night.

This offseason, the Nets acquired Taurean Prince which sent Allen Crabbe and the 17th pick of the 2019 NBA draft pick to Atlanta. In Free Agency, the obvious big signings were Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, but the Nets also signed veteran 3&D forward Garrett Temple who could help as depth and a veteran presence. 

To add more shooting forward depth, the Nets signed veteran Wilson Chandler who played with the Knicks and was a long-time Denver Nugget. Wilson Chandler was also recently suspended for 25 games by the NBA for the PED Ipamorelin. So he will miss some time and his status on the team might be in question.

The Nets also drafted PF/C Nicolas Claxton from the University of Georgia with the 31st overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft. It will be interesting if he will mostly be a power forward or center, but from the glimpses of Summer League play we have seen his ability to play the four at times and can sometimes handle the ball at a decent rate.

To sum up the depth chart the forward and power forward positions, the players who are eligible to play at the positions are: Joe Harris, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs,  and Nicolas Claxton are the most likely candidates fighting for roles on the rotation. Caris LeVert and Dzanan Musa can also see time at the forward spots but will primarily still play the two-guard position.

The rotations at the forward spots:

At the point guard and shooting guard positions, Kyrie and LeVert most likely have secured the starting spots. At the center, DeAndre Jordan could be the starting center, but Jarrett Allen seems to have a good chance of keeping his starting spot. 

So at the three, Joe Harris seems like the leading candidate to fill in as the starter with Durant’s absence. Joe Harris had a great year as he led the league in three-point field goal percentage at 47.4%. He also averaged a career-high 13.7 points per game.

He most likely will get the starting spot as he will provide lethal sharpshooting threats with Irving and LeVert manning the backcourt. He will space the floor and make defenses have a hard time doubling Irving or sometimes LeVert. His hustle, ability to sometimes drive at the rim and his high-IQ intangibles will also be strong reasons for him to start.

For the backup three positions, that leaves either Garrett Temple, Dzanan Musa and possibly Taurean Prince. Musa seems more of a two-guard with his playmaking and score first ability. Prince can also be a strong candidate to not just play off the bench but even possibly start. Still, Prince seems to be the Nets small ball four either starting or off the bench.

That leaves Garrett Temple as the favorite at the backup three. Temple has been known as a good locker room presence, but his defensive ability has also been praised as well. He can be the perfect 3&D player off the bench for the Nets who have been able to shoot 35% from three.

Rotations at the power forward spots:

The Nets have four candidates at the four with Rodions Kurucs, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler and Nicolas Claxton. Again, this is if Kurucs is proved innocent with the recent changes. The Nets are a bit small at the four, but they added capable players at these spots.

Chandler and Claxton most likely are three or fourth on the power forward depth chart. Claxton is still probably young and Chandler will face that 25 game suspension to start. Chandler has also declined these last couple of years, so his quality was always in question.

The case for who starts at the four is much more difficult than the forward spots. Without the recent drama with Kurucs, he would’ve been the big favorite to start for the Nets.

Rodions Kurucs had many starts at the four last year and was one of the rookie surprises of last year. His blistering energy and hustle got him favorable nods to start from Kenny. Kurucs most positive trait has to be his defense abilities to snatch steals, play aggressive defense, and his elite athletic ability. 

If he wants to be the clear cut starter next season, he must fix his ability to shoot and refine his offensive game. He has been a capable shooter from the three but last season he showed many inconsistent stretches from behind the arc. 

Another concern has been his strength. He needs to add more muscle if he wants to compete full-time against bigger power forwards. One reason he struggled against the Sixers in the playoffs was the better size and muscle advantage the Sixers had over him.

The other candidate to start at the four spots is Taurean Prince. He has a chance to start now with the recent Kurucs news, but it will be interesting how effective he can be at the four. 

As stated earlier, he can be a candidate at the three but the Nets might like him more as a small-ball four. He is a bit smaller than Kurucs and isn’t a proven four, but the one thing that might entice Kenny to pull him into the starting five is his elite shooting. Prince shot 39% from three last year and has been a consistent three-point shooter his whole career.

Prince has a really good cause at the four, but he might be better as a combo three or four. So Kurucs gets the nod for now at the four as he is more familiar with the system and has a chance to improve from last year.

Final 10-man rotation prediction:

It will be up to Kenny and how training camp goes, but the Nets are presented with tons of opportunities with their lineups this year. The recent Rodions Kurucs incident really can weaken this frontcourt, though, even with the added depth and options. The absence of Kevin Durant will make the forward and power forward positions intriguing to watch this year. No matter what the depth at these positions is capable of giving the Nets great depth in Durant’s recovery.

Rotation predictions:

  1. Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie
  2. Caris LeVert, Dzanan Musa, David Nwaba
  3. Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, Dzanan Musa
  4. Rodions Kurucs, Taurean Prince
  5. Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan