LaMarcus Aldridge, courtesy YouTube
Oct 7, 2021
Four Nets players to watch this season (who aren’t named Harden, KD or Kyrie)
Even without the so-called 'Big Three,' the Nets boast a deep bench. Here are four to keep an eye on
The Brooklyn Nets are the odds on favorites to win the 2021-2022 NBA championships. They’ve also set tongues wagging this preseason. Much of the dialogue has been about who will be on the court, and for how long, come the start of regular season play later this month. There’s a lot of speculation about who Coach Steve Nash will slot into the starting five beyond the so-called “Big Three” of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and who will slide in at point guard if Irving’s vaccination status leaves him ineligible to play in part or all of the season.
Lucky for Nash, and for Brooklyn, the Nets have a deep bench to choose from.
Here are four players you can expect to hear a lot from this season:
The 36 year old, 6’11” power forward and center rejoins the Nets this season after abruptly retiring in April, just two weeks into his tenure in Brooklyn, due to an irregular heartbeat. If Sunday’s pre-season game is any indication, his return is with a vengeance. Coming through with six points, four rebounds and three assists in Sunday’s rout of the Lakers, Aldridge made a strong case for himself to replace Blake Griffin as the Nets starting center this season.
The 33-year-old Australian point guard is most likely to lead the team at point in Irving’s potential absence. With or without Irving, Mills will contribute to the Nets reputation as a high-scoring team. Mills is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, with a 40 percent make range from long. He was considered by many NBA pundits to be “the steal of the off-season” when the Nets signed him in August.
Thomas is a rookie guard who joined the league as the 27th pick in the 2021 draft after one year at LSU. Thomas was the highest scoring freshman in the NCAA last year and the highest scorer in the 2021 NBA summer league. He continued his impressive performance during the Nets pre-season opener, sinking a game high 21 points. The 20-year-old Thomas is an exciting new pro player who has the potential to play a star-making season in Brooklyn this year.
Bruce Brown spent two years languishing on the Detroit Pistons bench before he was traded to The Nets in November of 2020. Brown proved to be a vital part of the Nets defense last season, the part of the game often considered the team’s weakest link. As a small ball 6’4” center, Brown is versatile. He upped his scoring to an average of 9 points per game, with a career high 29 points against the Sacramento Kings in February 2021. Look for Brown to consistently hold the team down up and down the court this season.
This list just scrapes the surface of the Nets reserves. Veterans Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, and Joe Harris, along with rookies David Duke Jr and Day’Ron Sharpe will likely make their way in and out of the rotation and have a large impact on the success of this Nets season.
The Nets play the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in their second preseason game on October 8. The Nets first home game of the season is on October 24 against the Charlotte Hornets. Read our season preview here.
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