The Brooklyn Nets are looking for defensive help as they have been allowing points like giving candy to a baby since the arrival of James Harden.
Harden gave the Nets a virtually unstoppable offensive trio with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, they have not been able to play good enough defense to win games. In the game that Harden has played, the Nets are just 3-2 and have given up at least 125 points in their last four games played.
Brooklyn is in talks with the Cavs to acquire JaVale McGee. They’re also interested in Kevin Love.
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) January 25, 2021
With their defensive woes, the Nets are reportedly looking at acquiring veteran big man Javale McGee from the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to a report from Jason Dumas of Kron4 News, the Nets are currently in active discussions for McGee and are also interested in Kevin Love. The Cavs are in excess of big men right now and reportedly want to flip some of them for draft capital.
Brooklyn’s defense has taken a serious hit since the James Harden trade. While the Nets have become one of the most potent offensive teams in the history of the NBA with the addition of Harden, their paint defense and rim protection have fallen off the charts with the departure of young big man Jarrett Allen.
Talking Nets defense with @KNegandhiESPN. In the past 25 years, only one team has won a title ranked outside the top-20 defensively (where Brooklyn is now). Time playing together should help the Nets improve, but with no defensive stopper, it’s also gonna take effort/sacrifice pic.twitter.com/L2RpdyMh5S
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 22, 2021
The Nets have conceded at least 124 points since Harden’s Nets debut where they beat the Orlando Magic 122-115. For the season, Brooklyn is ranked 27th in the league in scoring defense at 116.8 points per game allowed and are 26th in turnovers at 15.2 per game.
In the six games since they sent Allen to the Cavs in the James Harden deal, Brooklyn’s Defensive Rating ranks next to last in the league. Overall, Brooklyn ranks 27th in Defensive Rating this season and if they are going to make a serious run at the championship, that part of the game needs to be fixed.
Back-to-Back Losses to the Cavs
Their recent two-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the perfect example of how bad Brooklyn’s defense has become. Cleveland entered that series with the worst offensive rating in the league and had failed to score at least 100 points in their nine previous games. However, the defense-less Nets allowed the Cavs to score 147 points (113 in regulation) and Collin Sexton a career-high 42 in a double OT loss
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 23, 2021
Brooklyn allowed 134 points in the paint in those two games combined, their worst 2-game stretch in that statistical category during the last 25 years. While the Nets “held down” Cleveland to 125 points in the second game of that set, Brooklyn allowed the Cavs to score 70 points in the paint.
The Cleveland back-to-back set represented just two games out of a total of 72 for this shortened season and is in no way going to affect the Nets’ record in the long run. However, it reflects a glaring weakness that the Nets have to address considering that only one team in the last 25 years has won the NBA title with a bottom 20 defense.
McGee the Solution?
McGee wouldn’t solve Brooklyn’s defensive woes but at least, he provides them with someone who is committed to playing defense. McGee is averaging 8.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 16.8 minutes this season and should provide Brooklyn with the paint protection that they’ve missed with Allen gone.
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) January 25, 2021
The McGee rumors started to float last Friday, just about the same time when Brooklyn was awarded the $5.7M DPE from Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury. With McGee worth $4.2M this season, he fits right into the Nets budget and fills a need for the team. It’s interesting to note though that they could have included McGee when they were doing the Harden trade but you can’t blame Brooklyn for being too excited about getting Harden.
But while McGee makes sense, Kevin Love is an unlikely move because not only does he not play good defense, his salary would make it near impossible for the Nets to work around. Brooklyn would have to match Love’s $31.2M salary to trade for him and that’s almost impossible to do.
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