Come playoff time, the Brooklyn Nets hope to finally be at full strength, unlike during the regular season. Kyrie Irving has had to leave the team multiple times due to personal reasons, Kevin Durant has been sidelined for months due to a calf injury, Jeff Green and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot were both hurt for short stints, and now James Harden has missed a game due to neck soreness. This team cannot catch a break, but the Nets seem to be in no rush to hurry anyone back. The Nets just want everyone to be healthy and available come playoff time, which should be the goal. At this point, the regular season does not matter a whole lot, since the Nets are bound to be one of the top seeds anyway. With hopefully everyone healthy for the playoffs, the question becomes what will the Nets rotation look like? Let’s dive in.
Irving and Harden will obviously be the starting backcourt, and expect heavy minutes from these two come playoff time. Harden is already averaging 39 minutes per game and his usage cannot go up much more. Harden will likely play 40-42 minutes in the playoffs while Irving will likely play 38-40. For the guards coming off the bench, that is where it gets tricky. Steve Nash will have to make a decision as to which guards he wants to see the floor. Bruce Brown, who has been fantastic this season with his ability to set picks and finish around the rim will definitely see time. Brown should be seeing 20-23 minutes off the bench during the playoffs. And lastly, Landry Shamet, who started off slowly but has come along nicely. Shamet shouldn’t see too much action during the playoffs, most likely 10-15 minutes off the bench to provide shooting.
We hope come playoff time that Durant is fully healthy and ready to go with no minutes restriction. When he has played this season, KD has averaged 36 minutes per game. During the playoffs, when every game is so crucial, Durant will likely play similar minutes to Kyrie, 38-40 per game. As for Joe Harris, the Nets’ best player outside of the big 3, he’ll see around 30 minutes per game. Harris may be the Nets most important player and he could even see more minutes down the line. Another really important player for the Nets is Jeff Green who provides much needed versatility. Green has given the Nets solid minutes all year and expect him to continue to do so in the playoffs with 20-22 minutes per game.
The Nets have been in a center dilemma all year, first with Jarrett Allen vs. DeAndre Jordan and now Nicolas Claxton vs. Jordan with Blake Griffin thrown into the mix. Jordan has continued to start through the year and I assume he will start in the playoffs (though he shouldn’t). However, I cannot see Jordan playing many minutes come playoff time due to his lackluster defense and immobility. Claxton will take most of his minutes and will certainly finish games over Jordan. Expect Claxton to play upwards of 20 minutes and maybe even more with the way he has been playing recently.
Blake Griffin deserved his own section in this article. Griffin’s singing was overhyped from the start, as he was never going to be the player that launched the Nets to a new level. He was, and has proven to be, a solid luxury for this team that already has so much depth. If Nash is bound to give DeAndre Jordan at least 10-15 minutes during the playoffs, I can’t see Griffin even really seeing the floor at all. However, if Nash finally does the smart thing and banishes Jordan to the bench, those minutes would open up to Griffen where he could certainly help more than Jordan. Griffin has been playing more of the 4 spot this year, but come playoffs if he sees the floor expect him to play the 5 with Kevin Durant back and healthy.
Overall, the Nets’ rotation come playoff time will be very similar to their rotation as it is now. Players such as Tyler Johnson and Luwawu-Cabarrot will likely not see the floor unless an injury occurs, and the Nets stars will see a slight minutes increase, but other than that, it will be the same rotation us Nets fans have come to know.