The Brooklyn Nets have enjoyed a strong start to the season in 2023. Around a quarter of the way through the regular season, they currently sit as the eighth seeds in a competitive Eastern Conference. However, there has been a noticeable struggle for them when playing the better teams in the East. They already have losses to the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks and face a tough run of games as of writing with the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets all coming up.
They are still priced strongly to make the playoffs at +120 and their offensive abilities are clear for the entire league to see. Jacques Johnson’s heavy metal style of play is some of the most attractive to watch in the league. The Nets’ deep shooting is the best in the league alongside the Oklahoma City Thunder with both teams shooting at 38.7% from downtown.
With such good three-point shooting, wagers for NBA player props on the Nets have seen a rise in recent weeks.
However, there are still some key areas they need to improve on, especially if they plan on making the playoffs. They can certainly still make an impact in the Eastern Conference, though the competitiveness is starting to become a worry for fans. It is going to be extremely tight come the conclusion of the regular season and there is every chance that the Nets need a play-in win or even worse miss out entirely. Let’s take a look at where they must improve to best take advantage of their current standing.
More consistent scorers
It seems stupid picking at an offense that ranks among the best in the league but hear us out. Mikal Bridges has been one of the standout players for the Nets so far this season, sitting atop their scoring leaders averaging 23.2 points per game. However, Bridges is notably not scoring at the same rate as he did in the second half of last season. This is mainly due to the fact that his work rate has been upped on both sides of the floor following injuries to the likes of Nic Claxton and Cameron Johnson at the beginning of the season. Bridges is the only Nets player inside the top 50 scorers in the league right now with Lonnie Walker being the next to appear all the way down at 80. Cam Thomas’ return to the team has been extremely welcomed however and he and Bridges should prove to be a great scoring tandem as the season rolls on.
The Nets defensive shortcomings so far could be the biggest thing standing between a place in the playoffs and a place in the play ins. Of course, there is a huge asterisk next to this as they have been without Ben Simmons for weeks. He is one of their best defenders in the backcourt along with Dennis Smith Jr who has also had a stop-start beginning to the year through injury. This is where Mikal Bridges has stepped up majorly and is now their best defender by quite some way. However, Bridges is desperately needed in offense too which poses a problem for the Nets. To combat this, it is important that they direct their defending into the paint. Nic Claxton is an elite shot-blocker and showing players closer to the rim could help the Nets while their roster remains unbalance. Brooklyn’s defensive rating puts them at 18th overall in the league which must improve to see them through to the playoffs come the end of the season.
These issues have been recognized by players as well. Nic Claxton in particular has been vocal about his disappointment with their defence so far this season. “That’s definitely a big problem right now,” Claxton noted. “We have a lot of individual good defenders, but I think it just comes down to trust in our system in what we’re trying to do here, and also just taking the pride of keeping whoever you’re guarding in front of you.”
The Nets are in good standing a quarter of the way through the season and look in a healthy position to get a place in the playoffs. How they will fare beyond that is up for debate, but there is no reason to think they cannot have at the very least a good run.
There are some glaring weaknesses in their defence, however their incredible offensive play far outshines those. It is also important to note that they have been playing undermanned for a large portion of the season so far and still find themselves with a positive win percentage. There is plenty to be excited about in Brooklyn and should they improve in the areas above it could be a very exciting Spring.