It’s not a hot take to consider the Brooklyn Nets as having the most talented starting five in the NBA. Between superstars like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, they clearly have the league’s top big-three. Meanwhile, Joe Harris’ shooting commands respect. Then…there’s DeAndre Jordan.
Come playoff time in a competitive Eastern Conference this season, that five-spot is going to be crucial to wins, mainly defensively, to stop the other forces battling for the conference title.
So what’s up with De’Andre?
Defensively, he’s been asleep. Nets fans have just come to accept it by now.
ESPN released an article calling him a “liability” on that end, he ranks 60th out of 80 centers in ESPN’s defensive Real Plus-Minus. But could they be worse? Overall, probably. Defensively, no shot. An NBA scout told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps that DeAndre Jordan looks ‘cooked’ and could be a problem for the Nets.
“That’s where losing Allen hurts. [Jordan] looks pretty cooked to me. I think [the 76ers] do have some bodies who will defend, [Matisse] Thybulle — guys they can throw at Harden defensively.”
Aside from those scrappy defenders like Thybulle, there’s also this former third overall pick from Kansas, before that Cameroon, on that Philadelphia team who’s pretty good. The Nets are going to have to put someone on him.
Joel Embiid is playing like an MVP frontrunner this season, where he’s been making even the best defenders look silly trying.
This matchup problem alone poses maybe the biggest threat to the Net’s chances out of the East this season. Mind you, the Sixers will have to make it to play the Nets. Philadelphia has reached only the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals twice with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
In the 76ers’ recent playoff series, Embiid wasn’t playing like he is now, Philly role players weren’t clicking like this, the defense wasn’t as good, and Doc Rivers wasn’t the coach.
The Nets had to let go of most of their tradable assets to get James Harden, so before you think about moves that could be made for more defensive help at the five-spot, that isn’t happening. Especially when factoring in the salary cap impact of also having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Nets’ big-three is the best in the league, almost by far. Add Joe Harris, Landry Shamet off-the-bench, that fire power alone is enough to win a title. It’d really be something if D’Andre Jordan’s lack of defensive impact stood in the way of that.