Nets

Brooklyn’s Appetizing Bubble Play Sets Table for Main Course

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The Brooklyn Nets’ 2019-2020 season officially came to an end a mere week and change ago. It was quite the roller-coaster season, ranging from injuries, a coaching change, and playing in the Orlando Bubble. Playing in the Bubble was an obstacle in itself, but Brooklyn surprised many with their play in the seeding games. The team won five of their eight contests, including wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Reinforcements in the bubble

While the season did not go as planned, there are several positive takeaways. Before heading to the Bubble, the Nets posted a record of 30-35, raising questions from many NBA experts if they would struggle to maintain a playoff spot. With their impressive play, Brooklyn finished the season seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 35-38 record, setting up a first-round date with the Toronto Raptors.

Prior to the NBA restart, the roster included the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and the list goes on. The majority of the players opted out of the restart due to injuries and COVID-19. With key guys missing, the team signed the likes of Tyler Johnson, Justin Anderson, Donta Hall and Jamal Crawford to fill out the vacancies.

The Johnson signing came full circle and it panned out to be a quality signing by Sean Marks. During the eight seeding games, he averaged 12 points per game, but increased that number to 13.8 points per game in the four-game series loss to the Raptors. With a limited roster of talent, Johnson became the team’s third (and at times second) option on offense behind Caris LeVert.

At first, the Crawford signing was an intriguing one. It was an opportunity for the 40-year-old to prove to the rest of the league that he still had some gas left in the tank. Unfortunately, Crawford strained his hamstring and only tallied six minutes in his Nets debut.

While production on the court would have been ideal, his contribution on the bench did not go unnoticed. When the camera would turn to the Nets bench, Crawford would be seen talking to his teammates. LeVert praised Crawford for his leadership and respect that he gained in such a short period of time.

Players that impressed in the bubble

1. Caris LeVert

When the roster overhaul was in full swing, Caris LeVert became the Nets’ best player in the Bubble. He did not disappoint down in Orlando, but his status for next season still remains a mystery. Do the Nets trade him as a part of a package for a third star? Or does Brooklyn keep the current core together and embrace their depth? Either way, LeVert’s value skyrocketed and proved to the league that he is capable of leading a team.

It was an impressive stretch for Caris, as he was named to the All-Bubble second team.

2. Joe Harris

Another player that continued to increase his value was sharp-shooter Joe Harris. A free agent in the upcoming offseason, Harris made his case to get paid. The Nets will have healthy competition for the services of Harris and should consider retaining him in order to compliment the games of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Looking at those numbers, the Virginia guard established himself as a valuable core piece moving forward. With extreme emphasis on the three pointer, Harris’s game plays well. Having improved on his ability to drive to the basket and rebound, he is more than just a shooter. Hard work has paid off, and Harris will cash in when free agency begins.

3. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

It was not the best start at the beginning of the bubble for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. After a rough stretch in the three scrimmages, TLC’s luck changed for the better in the eight seeding games.

One of his best outings in the seeding games came against the Bucks. Missing Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen, TLC played the best game of his career, dropping 26 points while shooting 5-7 from behind the arc.

One thing was certain– Luwawu-Cabarrot was going to get his minutes on the floor. It was his opportunity to shine and prove to the team that he is worthy of a spot on the team next season. He offers the ability to stretch the floor with his efficiency behind the three-point line, all while sliding to the stretch four when necessary.

Excluding the immaculate Phoenix Suns, the Brooklyn Nets were the surprise team in the Orlando Bubble. Compiling a 5-3 record, making the postseason, and evaluating talent for next season, it was mission accomplished for Brooklyn. This season was like the appetizer, and next season will be the delicious main course that Nets fans have salivated over.

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About Rob Siwiec

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