When the Brooklyn Nets pulled off a blockbuster trade to land 9-time NBA All-Star James Harden last January, it immediately made them the favorites to win the title. A ‘big 3’ of Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant alone was enough to at least make a significant run in the playoffs.
Still, after getting Harden to Brooklyn, Nets general manager Sean Marks wasn’t done making moves. Throughout the season, he added several key players to further bolster the Nets roster into one that is worthy of competing for a championship. One of those players was All-Star forward Blake Griffin.
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Blake Griffin Expected To Start at Center for the Nets
When the Nets lineup was at full strength Griffin often served as a reserve off the bench. However, the team will look a lot different when this season starts. Jeff Green is gone, and center DeAndre Jordan will likely be gone before the season starts. With the Nets’ newly revamped roster Griffin will have a new role as well.
“I expect Griffin to start at center alongside the big three and (Joe) Harris,” Alex Schiffer wrote in a recent report for The Athletic. “(Nic) Claxton is likely the first big off the bench and maybe the Nets go small with Durant alongside James Johnson, similar to what they did with him and Jeff Green last season. Maybe Alize Johnson gets a crack in a similar lineup with Durant.”
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Nets Lineup Could Be Similar to Warriors ‘Death Lineup’
Griffin averaged 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in 26 games for the Nets in 2021. While he is listed at just 6’9 Griffin playing the center position for the Nets could work, despite it being unorthodox.
Durant can attest to that from experience during his years with the Golden State Warriors. Golden State’s best lineup was one that did not feature a traditional center, but rather forward Draymond Green playing the center position.
The lineup was often referred to as the small ball ‘death lineup’ because it would run the opposing team off the floor due to it having more versatility and athleticism. As a result the lineup created a lot more open shots for Durant, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry. Nets’ head coach Steve Nash who was a consultant for the Warriors during those championship runs could be looking for Griffin to create some of those same opportunities for Durant, Harden, and Irving.
Griffin: Re-Signing With Nets Was ‘No-Brainer’
After reaching a buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons, the Nets signed Griffin to a veteran’s minimum deal for the rest of the season. Many were unsure of what the former Slam Dunk Contest champion would do when he hit the free agency market this summer. Ultimately Griffin decided to return to the Nets this season on a one-year deal, a decision that he says was a ‘no brainer.’
“It was a no-brainer for me … that was a conversation we as a team felt like we obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted. You can say injuries, but every team had injuries,” Griffin said of his decision to return to Brooklyn per the New York Post.
“So, we feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that.”
There is no guarantee that a Nets ‘small ball’ lineup will be as effective as it was for the Warriors, but if Jordan is on his way out, it is a method that is at least worth a shot to start the season.
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