Looking Back at the 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets

November 11th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The Brooklyn Nets’ logo in 2020.
(Photo:
Brooklyn Nets, via Business Insider)

After having a surprisingly solid 2019 season, the 2020 Brooklyn Nets were expected to make the playoffs once again under head coach Kenny Atkinson.  They went out and signed superstars Kevin Durant (who was injured and would miss the entire 2019-20 season) and Kyrie Irving in the offseason, and while KD would be out due to an Achilles injury, the line of thinking was that Kyrie’s talent would supersede the chemistry issues he had in Boston, and that he would be an upgrade over D’Angelo Russell.

However, that just did not turn out to be the case this past season.  2019 D’Angelo Russell was a solid player in a team-oriented system that helped the overachieving Nets team get to the playoffs, but Kenny Atkinson and Kyrie Irving together were 8-12 when Kyrie was healthy, and the Nets actually played better when Kyrie was not playing in NBA games this season.  There was turmoil amid chemistry concerns yet again, and questions about the direction of the team that led to Kenny Atkinson’s departure. 

The Nets hired Jacque Vaughn to be the interim head coach, and he coached the team well, especially in the Orlando bubble late in the regular season as he received a tremendous performance there by Caris LeVert, and he was able to win 7 of his 10 regular season games, and he managed to get his team to be the 7th seed before they got swept by the then-defending champions Toronto Raptors.  After their 2020 season ended, they hired Phoenix Suns’ great, Steve Nash to be their head coach, with Amar’e Stoudemire tagging along to be an assistant coach for their team.

Brooklyn Nets’ superstar forward, Kevin Durant missed all of the 2019-20 NBA season due to an Achilles injury that he sustained during the 2019 NBA Finals when he was with the Golden State Warriors against the Toronto Raptors. It is unsure when he’ll be able to play, but he’s expected to return at some point during the 2020-21 NBA season.
(Photo:
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images, via Bleacher Report)

F Kevin Durant, 2020 season grade: Incomplete 

2020 (BRK): DNP – Achilles injury

Kevin Durant is a superstar forward that is one of the best in the game when healthy, but he missed all of the 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals.   He’s been an excellent player throughout his career, but there is a significant question if he can return to full form and still be as effective after he recovers from an Achilles injury.  Add in the fact that the 2020-21 season will likely be a compressed and hectic season with basically no training camp and more back-to-back games as the NBA is trying to start back up around Christmas, this might hurt Durant’s chances to make a full comeback for this season.

He is a tremendously athletic, skilled basketball player that does everything well when he is on the court, and the 10-time All-Star is an impact player that could make the Nets contenders out in the East.  A lot of people will be watching the Nets to see how far they will go, if they can get to the Finals, even win it all, if they will be the new version of the 2020 Clippers next season, or if they will not even reach those levels altogether.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Franchise player, starting forward of the Brooklyn Nets
Projected 2021 Rating: 4.5 stars

Brooklyn Nets’ superstar guard, Kyrie Irving missed a lot of time due to a shoulder injury, and his team actually had a better record with him off the floor than on it during the 2019-20 NBA season. Still, he did put up great numbers individually, and a lot of people will be interested to see how well he and Kevin Durant play for the Nets for the upcoming season.
(Photo:
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images, via SB Nation)

G Kyrie Irving – B-

2020 (BRK): 20 GP, 27.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 48 FG%, 39 3PT%, 92 FT%, 32.9 MPG, 26.2 PER, 2.9 WS

From an individual perspective, Kyrie Irving is a superstar point guard that talent-wise is one of the best in the game, and his terrific shooting, scoring, and playmaking skills makes him likely to make All-Star teams on a perennial basis.  On the other hand, he’s been known to say and do some curiously odd things off the court, and he’s had chemistry issues in Boston with the Celtics, and with Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn, and he even wanted out of Cleveland after having won a championship with LeBron James.  In 2020, Kyrie Irving put up great numbers individually when healthy, but his team was only 8-12 with him on the floor, and they were a staggering 27-25 without him.

The Uncle Drew star struggled to be the team leader in Boston, and skeptics have voiced concerns that maybe Kyrie may be the root of his team’s chemistry issues over the years, and there are concerns that maybe he might not exactly be a great teammate.  Whether or not if that’s the case, he’s still a tremendously talented player that will get to play with one of the best players in the game in Kevin Durant, and will be coached by a future Hall of Fame point guard in Steve Nash, so the Nets could be equipped for a deep playoff run in spite of his past issues in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting point guard of the Brooklyn Nets
Projected 2021 Rating: 3.5 stars

Brooklyn Nets’ forward, Caris LeVert played some of his best basketball late in the regular season in the Orlando bubble, and big things may be expected from him in 2021.
(Photo:
Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images, via Elite Sports NY)

F Caris LeVert – B

2020 (BRK): 45 GP, 18.7 PPG, 4.4 APG, 4.2 RPG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 71 FT%, 29.6 MPG, 16.1 PER, 1.5 WS

Caris LeVert is an athletic, skilled swingman that had his best individual season on the Nets, and he really played well in the Orlando bubble late in 2020.  He especially excelled as a shooter and facilitator, but he will need to be more efficient in making shots inside the arc, and he will need to stay healthy.  He will look to build off of his solid 2020 season, and he will likely be the Nets’ starting small forward in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward for the Brooklyn Nets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Brooklyn Nets’ guard, Joe Harris is a sharpshooter that excels at knocking down shots to score the basketball, and the Nets will look to re-sign Joe Harris for the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season.
(Photo:
David Sherman/Getty Images, via 247Sports)

G Joe Harris – B

2020 (BRK): 69 GP, 14.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 49 FG%, 42 3PT%, 72 FT%, 30.8 MPG, 13.3 PER, 4.3 WS

Joe Harris is a skilled, sharpshooting wing player that can really knock down shots to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also will move the basketball, and he is one of the best shooters in the game.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his defense, and curiously, he didn’t make free throws nearly as well as he did in 2019.  Still, he would greatly complement KD and Kyrie Irving if the Nets re-sign him, and he will likely earn a lot of minutes with either the Nets or another team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Harris will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

C DeAndre Jordan – B

2020 (BRK): 56 GP, 8.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 BPG, 67 FG%, 22 MPG, 19.9 PER, 5.2 WS

DeAndre Jordan joined KD and Kyrie Irving by signing with Brooklyn in the offseason.  It’s doubtful that he envisioned coming off the bench behind Jarrett Allen to play for the Nets this year, but both of them did a good job collectively of manning the center position.   Jordan excelled as a finisher, rebounder, and interior defender, and he also passed the ball well. 

One minor concern is that he’s never really been a primary scorer, but the Nets don’t really need him to put up a lot of points, as he is efficient in making the shots that he hoists up.  Regardless of whether he or Allen start, both of them together will bring solid production for the Nets in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

C Jarrett Allen – A-

2020 (BRK): 70 GP, 11.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.3 BPG, 65 FG%, 26.5 MPG, 20.7 PER, 8.2 WS

He is an athletic, young big man that played very well for the Nets this past season.  Allen excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and interior defender, and he also showed a willingness to pass the basketball.  He’s not really a primary scorer, but he doesn’t have to be, and he and DeAndre Jordan will man the paint to be the co-defensive anchors together on the Nets next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie had a solid season in 2020, and he projects to have a big role on his team for the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season.
(Photo:
Steven Ryan/Getty Images, via Forbes)

G Spencer Dinwiddie – B

2020 (BRK): 64 GP, 20.6 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, 42 FG%, 31 3PT%, 78 FT%, 31.2 MPG, 17.8 PER, 4.8 WS

He is a smart, skilled combo guard who excels at scoring and distributing the basketball.  An entrepreneur who makes his own shoes (K8IROS) and also signed an ambitious bitcoin-based contract, Dinwiddie averaged nearly 21 points and 7 assists per game to help lead the Nets to the playoffs.  He is a valuable member of the Nets, as he can start or come off the bench. 

He will need to improve his outside shooting and on-ball defense though, and there is a concern if he can coexist with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as his play suffered when Kyrie was on the floor this year.  Still, his ability to score and facilitate on offense will allow him to see a lot of minutes on the Nets’ team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

F Taurean Prince – C-

2020 (BRK): 65 GP, 12.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 38 FG%, 34 3PT%, 80 FT%, 29 MPG, 9.1 PER, 0.6 WS

Taurean Prince is a tough, physical swingman that is basically an archetypal 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.  Prince’s role is to space the floor and defend on the court, though he struggled to make jump shots or to defend consistently this past season.  He can be a good shooter when he’s in a rhythm, and he’s certainly a capable defender. 

He’s shown that he can excel at times, as he played solid defense for the Hawks as a rookie, and he’s shot the ball well for the Hawks in his second and third years in the NBA, but he hasn’t quite put his skills altogether.  He’s a skilled player who could maybe project to be the like the new age Danny Green sort of player that the Nets desperately need if he can continue to develop, and they will need Prince to excel as a shooter and defender for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Prince has a Poison Pill provision in his contract that makes him very difficult to trade.

G-F Garrett Temple – C

2020 (BRK): 62 GP, 10.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 38 FG%, 33 3PT%, 80 FT%, 27.9 MPG, 10.5 PER, 2.4 WS

Garrett Temple is a gritty combo guard that is a defensive specialist on the Brooklyn Nets.  He defends well when he is on the court, and he will also make the extra pass to move the basketball.  However, he’s not really a scorer, and he’s been too inconsistent in making shots in games.  He will need to improve his offense, but his ability to guard people will get him rotation minutes on Brooklyn’s team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

G Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot – B

2020 (BRK): 47 GP, 7.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 43 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 18.1 MPG, 11 PER, 1.7 WS

He is an athletic, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball.  He played well in the Orlando bubble, and Luwawu-Cabarrot is a good outside shooter that can knock down shots from long distances.  He will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills, in the meantime though.  He had a strong bounce back year, and he will probably be a regular in the Nets’ rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

F Rodions Kurucs – C+

2020 (BRK): 47 GP, 4.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 45 FG%, 37 3PT%, 63 FT%, 14.6 MPG, 8.9 PER, 0.8 WS

Kurucs is an athletic, skilled combo forward that played very well as a rookie in 2019, and he is a versatile player that can do a little bit of everything.  Kurucs is a solid shooter that can make shots from all over the floor, and he is also an above average rebounder and defender that can lock down his man defensively.  He hasn’t been a consistent shooter and he can be too passive on offense, but Kurucs is a talented player that has considerable upside, and he has the skills to be a rotation regular for the Nets for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation-caliber player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 star potential)

G Jamal Crawford – B

2020 (BRK): 1 GP, 5 PPG, 3 APG, 50 FG%, 50 3PT%, 6 MPG, 33.2 PER, 0.1 WS

Jamal Crawford is a smart, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is a versatile scorer that is also a 3-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winner in this league.  He also boasts having solid playmaking skills, and he is a very good ball handler. 

Crawford was off to a great start in his first game in the Orlando bubble, but his season ended prematurely when he suffered a hamstring injury midway through the match.  He’s 39 years old and will be turning 40 in late March, and he’s played just one game this past season, so it’s uncertain how many solid minutes he’ll be able to provide to the Nets or another team in the NBA, but Crawford is definitely a skilled player who should be on an NBA team’s roster if he elects to keep playing for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation-caliber player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Crawford will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Tyler Johnson – C (D- with Phoenix, B with Brooklyn)

2020 (TOT): 39 GP, 7.0 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.9 RPG, 39 FG%, 32 3PT%, 84 FT%, 18.2 MPG, 10.1 PER, 0.7 WS
2020 (PHO): 31 GP, 5.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 38 FG%, 29 3PT%, 75 FT%, 16.6 MPG, 8.1 PER, 0.2 WS
2020 (BRK): 8 GP, 12.0 PPG, 3 RPG, 3 APG, 41 FG%, 39 3PT%, 100 FT%, 24.3 MPG, 15.6 PER, 0.6 WS

Tyler Johnson is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can put the ball in the hoop.  He struggled to make shots consistently for the Suns, which led him to being waived midway through.  He was then picked up by the Nets to play in the Orlando bubble, he played very well there, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator there.  It’s uncertain which version of him will show up next season, but he is certainly capable of locking down a rotation spot on their team if they bring him back for 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation-caliber player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Wilson Chandler – C-

2020 (BRK): 35 GP, 5.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 40 FG%, 31 3PT%, 87 FT%, 21 MPG, 7.4 PER, 0.7 WS

He is a skilled combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  Chandler can knock down shots from all over the floor, but he struggled to make them consistently for Brooklyn this past season.  His shooting percentages generally have dropped over the years, but he does possess above average rebounding and defensive skills.  Chandler is entering his mid-30s and seems to be on the verge of decline, and he also has been injury-prone.  On a crowded team, it’s uncertain if he can crack Brooklyn’s rotation in 2021, but his past history suggests that he certainly has the skills to do so.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Chandler will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F-C Nicolas Claxton – B-

2020 (BRK): 15 GP, 4.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 56 FG%, 14 3PT%, 52 FT%, 12.5 MPG, 14.8 PER, 0.5 WS

Claxton is an athletic, skilled big man that played fairly well in limited minutes as a rookie on the Nets’ team this past season.  He excelled as a finisher, passer, and interior defender for them, but he will need to improve his rebounding and his outside shot.  He is an intriguing prospect that possesses a variety of skills, and he certainly could step into a rotation if they need him to play in extended minutes next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Chris Chiozza (Two-Way) – C (D with Washington, B- with Brooklyn)

2020 (TOT): 28 GP, 5.1 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.9 RPG, 39 FG%, 38 3PT%, 100 FT%, 14.3 MPG, 12 PER, 0.5 WS
2020 (WAS): 10 GP,2.7 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 29 FG%, 44 3PT%, 12.3 MPG, 9.2 PER, 0 WS

2020 (BRK):  18 GP, 6.4 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.1 RPG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 100 FT%, 15.4 MPG, 13.2 PER, 0.5 WS

Chris Chiozza played on two teams in the NBA this past season.  He struggled to find a consistent role on the Wizards, as they waived him after he played in 10 games, but Chiozza excelled in his role on the Nets after signing a two-way contract them.  He is a tough, gritty playmaker that can reliably run the team, and he also is a fairly solid outside shooter and defender.  Chiozza is not really a scorer, but he’s shown that he can be effective as the team’s backup point guard when called upon to play in games.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth guard, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F-C Donta Hall – C (D- with Detroit, B with Brooklyn)

2020 (TOT): 9 GP, 4.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 68 FG%, 14.8 MPG, 13.6 PER, 0.4 WS
2020 (DET): 4 GP, 1.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 25 FG%, 12 MPG, 7.3 PER, 0.1 WS
2020 (BRK): 5 GP, 6.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 78 FG%, 17 MPG, 17.2 PER, 0.3 WS

Hall is an athletic, high-motor big man that played for two teams in the NBA this past season.  He struggled to find his footing in Detroit, and they let him go after his second 10-day contract expired.  The Nets signed him to play in the Orlando bubble, and Hall played well for them, and he excelled as a finisher, shot blocker, and interior defender for them.  It’s uncertain if he will re-sign with the Nets, and the Nets might not have the roster space to bring him back, but Hall was able to show that he has the capacity to play rotation minutes in the NBA in this league.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Side note: Hall will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Jeremiah Martin (Two-Way) – C+

2020 (BRK): 9 GP, 7.1 PPG, 2.0 APG, 45 FG%, 28 3PT%, 79 FT%, 11 MPG, 21.8 PER, 0.4 WS

He latched on midway through the season on a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets, and Martin is a backup point guard that can reliably run the team.  He also is a solid defender that can rack up steals, but Martin will need to improve his outside shot.  Still, Martin was able to show that he can play in an NBA team’s rotation if there is playing time available, though it will be tough for him to get minutes on a crowded Nets’ team next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth guard, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Dzanan Musa – D-

2020 (BRK): 40 GP, 4.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 37 FG%, 24 3PT%, 75 FT%, 12.2 MPG, 9.4 PER, 0.2 WS

He was a 2018 first-round pick selected by the Nets, Musa has not played well in the NBA so far in his short career thus far.  On one hand, he finally received a fair chance to play in the association, and Musa was able to get into 40 games this season.  He has not shoot the ball well at all, and he’s really struggled to knock down outside shots.  He’s been noted to have poor shot selection and bouts of porous defense. 

Musa is a 6-9, ball-handling swingman that oozes with confidence when he plays, but so far he hasn’t shown much of a game to back it up.  It’s looking to be increasingly doubtful that he’ll carve out a niche role on the Nets or be an effective 3 and D type of player in the NBA, but he has shown brief of flashes of all-around skills that suggest that he may be worth keeping at the end of the roster, with the faint hope that he can figure out how to effectively play in the NBA one day.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth wing player, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 stars (2 star potential)

G-F Justin Anderson – F+

2020 (BRK): 10 GP, 2.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, 26 FG%, 21 3PT%, 50 FT%, 10.7 MPG, 3.2 PER, -0.1 WS

Signed to play midway through the season, Anderson didn’t really make much of an impression, as he did not shoot the ball well at all for the Nets when he was on the floor.  On the plus side, he was an effective rebounder for his team and he was a good shot blocker for his size, but his woeful shooting in limited minutes and lack of production combined with the fact that the Nets currently have a lot of players on their roster may mean that he may be an unlikely bet to make the Nets team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth wing player, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Anderson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F Lance Thomas – D-

2020 (BRK): 7 GP, 3.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 35 FG%, 31 3PT%, 100 FT%, 14 MPG, 3.0 PER, 0 WS

Signed exclusively to play in the Orlando bubble, Lance Thomas didn’t make much of an impact as he did not shoot the ball well nor grab many rebounds when he was there.  He’s a shooting specialist whose jump shot gives him a chance to be on an NBA team’s roster next year, but given that it’ll be a crowded field with the Nets, it’s unlikely that it’ll be with them in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth forward, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Legendary NBA point guard and former Phoenix Suns’ great, Steve Nash will be tasked to be the head coach for the Brooklyn Nets, and he will lead them during the 2020-21 NBA season and beyond.
(Photo:
Desmond Boylan/AP Images, via Insider)

Head Coach:
Steve Nash, 2020 season grade – Incomplete

Head coaching career: 0-0, will be a rookie head coach in the NBA for the 2020-21 season.

Steve Nash is a new head coach with no prior head coaching experience, but he was a terrific NBA point guard in his playing days with the Phoenix Suns.  Nash was a gritty, gutty gamer who boasted having excellent shooting, scoring, and playmaking skills, and he had amazing court vision, as he was one of the smartest players in the game.  He made some of the most creative passes in NBA history, and he’ll get a chance to show off his coaching chops for the upcoming season.  He’s got his work cut out for him, but he might be able to provide them the knowledge, intuition, and intellect they’re looking for to guide them to many wins in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head Coach of the Brooklyn Nets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (4 star potential)

Former head coaches:
Kenny Atkinson – 2020 season grade: C
2020 (BRK): 28-34
Head coaching career: 118-190, 1-4 in his playoff career

Kenny Atkinson had a terrific 2019 season when he led the overachieving Nets team that had D’Angelo Russell to 42 wins and a playoff berth a season ago, and the management certainly thought that he was equipped to handle superstars such as KD and Kyrie Irving that they signed in the following offseason.

Unfortunately, Atkinson just couldn’t get the full support or on the same page with Kyrie Irving, and their team struggled with him at the reins in 2020, and with Kevin Durant out due to an Achilles injury.  The veterans didn’t seem to be comfortable with him as their head coach, and Atkinson wanted a more team-oriented approach rather than an individualistic one, which clashed with the vets and management, so he was ousted just before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus.  Atkinson’s five-man basketball approach and team-oriented style was something that the role players could get behind, but with superstars coming into town, management felt that there wasn’t enough room to have him lead them by the time the end of the season was nearing.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Jacque Vaughn – B+
2020 (BRK): 7-3, 0-4 in the playoffs
Head coaching career: 65-161, 0-4 in his playoff career

He was a former head coach of a rebuilding Orlando Magic team that was arguably prematurely let go midway through the 2014-15 season, even though the Magic were known to still be in their rebuilding stage, so it can be argued that Vaughn wasn’t really given a fair shot to be the head coach of a competent NBA team back then. 

This year in 2020, Jacque Vaughn was given another shot to be a head coach in the NBA, this time as an interim for the Brooklyn Nets, and he did a good job with them while he was in command, as he won 7 of his 10 regular season games, and he led the 2020 Nets to a playoff berth.  Unfortunately, they got swept by the then-defending champions, Toronto Raptors, but now that Vaughn was still able to stay on board as a key assistant to new head coach Steve Nash, there is increasing confidence that the 2021 Brooklyn Nets could make a deep run in the postseason next year.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Assistant coach of the Brooklyn Nets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

The 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets’ grade: C+

Though the 2020 Nets basically met their expectations of earning the 7 seed to the playoffs, and didn’t last long in the postseason this year, that was something of an achievement considering that they did not have Kevin Durant for the entire season, and superstar guard Kyrie Irving was only able to play 20 games for them before missing the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury.

While they struggled to be consistent this season, the Nets saved some of their best basketball for the Orlando bubble, and they won 5 of their 8 regular season games there to close out the regular season.  The Nets were a good rebounding team in 2020, and they rated in the middle of the pack in assists per game, but they need to shoot and defend better, and also take better care of the basketball.  With their top players likely to return next year, expect them to play significantly better in various team categories across the board.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C DeAndre Jordan
F Kevin Durant
F Caris LeVert
G Joe Harris* (UFA)
G Kyrie Irving

Key Reserves:
G Spencer Dinwiddie
C Jarrett Allen
G-F Garrett Temple
F Taurean Prince

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G-F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
F Rodions Kurucs
G Tyler Johnson* (UFA)
G Jamal Crawford* (UFA)
The 19th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F-C Nicolas Claxton
G Jeremiah Martin (Two-Way Contract)
G Chris Chiozza (Two-Way Contract)
The 55th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
G-F Dzanan Musa

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
None.

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Joe Harris
Wilson Chandler
Donta Hall
Lance Thomas
Justin Anderson

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
Dzanan Musa

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#19, #55

Projected Offseason Plan for the Nets:

The 2020 Brooklyn Nets had a roller-coaster of a season this year.  They had their ups and downs, and they struggled to get wins with Kyrie healthy, and it was thought that they may have made a mistake when they fired then head coach Kenny Atkinson just before the season got suspended due to the coronavirus.  However, interim head coach Jacque Vaughn did a good job of running the team in his place, as the Nets won 7 of their last 10 regular season games under him, and they managed to get the 7th seed in the East before getting ousted by the Raptors. 

Now that they have new head coach Steve Nash in charge, and with Vaughn and Amare to coach alongside him as assistants, the Nets will be led by the superstar tandem of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and they also have a solid set of wing players and big men to complement them.  Dinwiddie can play any of the perimeter positions, and the Nets will likely select a 3 and D type of role player that can complement Durant and Kyrie on the floor. 

The Nets are capped out though so they don’t have money to spend on free agents that would cost more than the minimum. Most likely, they will look to re-sign Joe Harris, as Harris has played well for the Nets, his skills would greatly complement KD and Kyrie Irving, and the Nets will likely look to keep their team together to make a deep playoff run for 2021.

Expected Regular Season Win-Loss Record in 2021*: 41-31, 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.

In this scenario, the 2021 Brooklyn Nets would square off against the 4th seeded, Miami Heat in the 1st Round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: Now that the Brooklyn Nets will have a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the 2021 Nets could sneak up to potentially be one of the best teams in the East next season.  They could win more games than anticipated, which could put rookie head coach, Steve Nash in the running for the 2021 Coach of the Year award.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72-game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Nets was for them to get 47 wins in an 82-game season. Also, the projected 2021 record for the Nets does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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