The Brooklyn Nets got off to a surprisingly good start. But the Nets have struggled since opening the campaign with a 13-10 record. Now, they appear to be one of the NBA’s sellers, as the NBA trade deadline is fast approaching.
NBA Rumors: Nets Shopping Three Players As Trade Deadline Nears
It is not like Brooklyn had any designs of competing in the East this season. However, the Nets’ start gave them at least hope that they could be competitive.
Brooklyn’s recent funk has taken care of any of those hopes. However, the Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 130-112 last night behind Cam Thomas’ 33-point night and Nic Claxton’s double-double. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak and was the Nets’ second in the previous 10.
Brooklyn is 17-24 on the season and sits in 11th place. There are many reasons for the Nets’ 4-14 slide over the last month.
Injuries certainly have played a part in the Nets struggles. Thomas, Mikal Bridges, and Royce O’Neale are the only players to have all 18 games during this stretch and are among just seven players to appear in 14 contests.
More problematic is that Brooklyn needs help on both ends of the floor. Over the last month, the Nets are 26th in offensive rating and 21st in defensive efficiency. But it has been their offensive woes that have been the most troubling.
Brooklyn has scored less than 105 points in eight of their last 18 outings. The Nets have also produced a 50.7% effective field goal percentage and 54.1% true shooting percentage, both of which are third worst in the league during this stretch.
Bridges leads the way with 19.8 points a game during this stretch, though it is 1.5 points lower than his season average. Thomas is averaging 18.4 points over the last 18 games, 2.0 points below his season average.
The Nets are one game behind the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks and the one-and-a-half game in front of 12th-place Toronto. The Hawks are more talented than the Nets, so while there is still plenty of time left in the season, why not try to figure things out for next season?
Brooklyn Could Be Sellers
One of the more troubling trends during this stretch has been Spencer Dinwiddie‘s play.
Dinwiddie’s production has dropped in the last two months. The 30-year-old guard is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 assists in January, including the last two games where he combined for 38 points and 11 assists.
Dinwiddie also put up 23 points against Oklahoma City earlier in the month. However, he has also scored five or fewer points on four occasions.
Here is what ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in his weekly column on Friday.
Dinwiddie is averaging 14 drives per 100 possessions — the second-lowest rate of his career, per Second Spectrum. His shots at the rim are near a career-low level. Both numbers are tracking down. It almost looks as if Dinwiddie is on some kind of strike.
What makes this more bizarre is that Dinwiddie still ranks as one of the league’s most efficient pick-and-roll ball handlers — the precise skill Brooklyn so badly needs. The Nets have scored 1.23 points per possession on trips featuring a Dinwiddie pick-and-roll, per Second Spectrum — 14th among 166 ball handlers who have run at least 100 such plays. He ranks in the top 25% of that sample in assist rate (high!) and turnover rate (low!) out of the pick-and-roll. (That said, every Dinwiddie lob pass is an adventure.)
Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale Also Could Be Dealt
Dinwiddie is not the only Nets player who could be on the move this year. Dorian Finney-Smith‘s and Royce O’Neale’s names have also popped up in rumors, with the Lakers showing interest at the end of December.
Finney-Smith and O’Neal are also 30 years old. O’Neale is on a $9.5 million expiring contract, while Finney-Smith has two more years and $27.7 million left on his pact.
O’Neale’s shooting percentages have plummeted since coming to Brooklyn from Utah. But he is still a threat from beyond the arc. Besides the Lakers, NBA Insider Marc Stein reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are targeting him.
Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Fred Katz believes that O’Neale is a good fit for the Nuggets, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pacers, and Mavericks.
Here is more from Katz:
O’Neale is a versatile wing on an expiring contract who a real contender would love to have coming off its bench. He still hits 3s at a 37-percent clip, passes well, and rarely turns it over. Defensively, he still can ratchet up the pressure and force live-ball turnovers, even if he’s not quite the All-Defense-level defender he was at his peak with the Jazz.