The Brooklyn Nets have been perhaps the biggest surprise in the NBA in 2018-19, holding the league’s best record over the past six weeks en route to holding the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference as the calendar turns to February. Brooklyn has seen increased contributions from players like Jarrett Allen, who with each passing day is turning into one of the league’s elite rim protectors, and D’Angelo Russell, who is finally scoring with enough efficiency to be considered an All-Star reserve. The Nets have also established themselves as one of the deepest teams in the league, with their bench, headed by Spencer Dinwiddie and Ed Davis, often packing as much punch as the starting lineup, if not more. However, the Nets should address their forward position if they have any chance of going far in the playoffs.
Starting at forward for the Nets of late has been Treveon Graham and Rodion Kurucs. Graham signed with the Nets this past offseason on a cheap deal after spending the previous two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. Graham missed the first few months of the season due to injury, but was promoted to the starting lineup soon after his return thanks to his strong defense. Nets fans may remember Graham’s defense on James Harden during the closing moments of regulation in the Nets’ thrilling overtime victory over the Houston Rockets earlier this season, but what he adds in defense, he lacks in offense. Graham was brought in as a “three and D” type of player, but he is shooting just 21.7 percent from beyond the arc this season. An offensive liability, Graham is hardly the starting small forward that can bring the Nets to the second round of the playoffs.
Logging a lot of the minutes at the power forward spot for the Nets has been Kurucs, who is developing quickly since Brooklyn selected him with the 40th pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Kurucs has been chosen to participate in the Rising Stars event thanks to his surprising contributions so far this season. Shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 90.7 percent from the charity stripe, Kurucs has earned the praise of head coach Kenny Atkinson for his elusiveness around the rim and superb effort on both ends of the floor. With that being said, a tandem of forwards who average a combined 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds (those numbers would be solid for one player, but not necessarily two combined) will not get it done once April comes around.
Coming off the bench for the Nets at the three and the four has been Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll. With this rotation of forwards, it always seems as if the Nets cannot have both offensive and defensive prowess on the court at the same time between these two positions. The return of Caris LeVert will hopefully help with this, but with the Nets facing a tough schedule later this season as the playoffs loom, general manager Sean Marks would be smart to inquire about an insurance policy at the position before the trade deadline passes.