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Four Players the Brooklyn Nets Should Target
A winning season was not a realistic expectation this year, but the Brooklyn Nets have been competitive, truly embodying “Brooklyn Grit.” However, the Nets need to make some moves to improve, and here are some potential targets.
The Brooklyn Nets are currently 8-23 and 15.5 games back for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. With limited success and trade assets, it might seem impossible for the Nets to make moves, but that’s exactly what they need to do.
The first natural response to anyone saying “the Nets need to make some moves” would be “How!?!?” because to many outside of Brooklyn, Brook Lopez is the only trade piece the Nets have. Of course, this does not mean the Nets can’t make a move to improve their situation. Every trade does not have to be for a superstar. Also, take into consideration undervalued players and teams wanting to clear cap space, and the Nets have options.
If this passed off-season is any indication, Brooklyn is not the preferred destination of marquee free agents. With that in mind, Nets general manager Sean Marks cannot depend on signing superstars. Marks knows this better than anyone, hence the constant improvements being made to the Nets’ scouting team to find hidden gems in the developmental league and overseas. The fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Mario Hezonja, has recently fallen out of Frank Vogel’s rotation in Orlando. Hezonja, by all accounts, has a great work ethic, but his production just hasn’t been there; he is currently averaging less than four points per game.
Now why would the Nets want to trade for him? Well, “Super Mario” is only 21 years old, and he is still developing and acclimating to the NBA. The former Euroleague sensation could fit well in Kenny Atkinson‘s rotation, given Atkinson’s willingness to give underachievers opportunity after opportunity. Hezonja can also play both the shooting guard and small forward positions, which is a plus for the system Atkinson is cultivating.
Bojan Bogdanovic and Sean Kilpatrick have found some success in Atkinson’s system, utilizing them at more than one position. Bogdanovic will often play shooting guard and small forward throughout the game, and Kilpatrick often runs point even though he is the definition of a shooting guard.
Super Mario might come at a higher price than his production warrants due to how high he was drafted. However, the Magic seem to be in a “win-now” mode, so they might be willing to move Hezonja for the right trade. There are even rumors that the Magic are willing to part with Elfrid Payton and/or Nikola Vucevic. If either are true, it might be as easy as finding a third team to acquire Hezonja.
Ricky Rubio came into the league with much hype and has failed to live up to said hype, to say the least. Despite the fact that Rubio has drastically improved defensively, he still can’t shoot to save his life, but he can run an offense and make plays. Rubio has expressed his dissatisfaction with Minnesota in the past, and a possible change of scenery could do the 26-year-old well.
With Jeremy Lin out indefinitely, Isaiah Whitehead has shown some growth, but it is a lot to put on a rookie who was primarily a shooting guard and has only really played the point guard position for one season. Rubio could also help with Whitehead’s development, running a pro-style offense.
The Timberwolves have shown reluctance to move Rubio in the past, but they drafted Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick in this past draft, so the writing might be on the wall for the Spanish floor general. Rubio’s contract is not as hefty as it once was, so moving him will be easier for the T-Wolves.
If the rumors are true that Minnesota is looking for frontcourt help, preferably a veteran presence to help the young stars, then the Nets might be able to make a move for Rubio by trading Trevor Booker without finding a third team.
“The Manimal” Kenneth Faried has found himself in trade rumors ever since he signed his extension with the Denver Nuggets. The 27-year-old power forward has fallen out of Mike Malone’s rotation and seemingly out of favor with the Denver organization. Faried, who is averaging eight rebounds per game off the bench, could fit nicely next to Lopez and would be a definite upgrade from Anthony Bennett, if he were to come off the bench for Brooklyn. This move makes more sense if the Nets organization does not plan to call up Chris McCullough and give him significant playing time anytime soon.
The Nuggets are an enigma as far as what it will take to get Faried. There are rumors that the Timberwolves, Raptors, Clippers and Pelicans all have interest in “the Manimal.” If that is the case, Faried might be the least likely target on this list. However, if the Nuggets want to move him and the T-Wolves are interested; a Brooklyn-Minnesota-Denver trade might be a possibility, with Faried landing in Minnesota and Rubio finding a home in Brooklyn.
R.J. Hunter has been cut from both the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls this season. The Nets need scoring, Hunter needs an opportunity, and Atkinson loves giving guys an opportunity. Hunter only played in three games with Chicago and averaged about three minutes per game. In the 36 games he played with Boston, he started none and averaged under nine minutes of playing time. Hunter currently holds most of the all-time scoring records at George State University and with injuries to Joe Harris, it only makes sense to sign Hunter, even if it is only to a ten-day contract.
The Nets have been very competitive this season despite their record. Who knows, with a few tweaks to the roster, they might be able to move up in the standings and play spoiler to teams fighting for playoff contention. Barring some amazing win streak to sneak into the playoffs themselves, of course.
Source: FOX Sports