The Brooklyn Nets traded the legendary Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young. Five games into his Nets career, Young is producing very well, enough to warrant a spot in the starting lineup.
Kevin Garnett’s departure left a gaping hole in the Nets starting lineup. It would have been easy to replace the veteran with just the player he was traded for, Thaddeus Young. However, the Nets have instead opted to slide star Joe Johnson into the power forward slot. This also left a void in the bottom half of the lineup, one that has been filled by rookie Markel Brown.
Johnson has actually performed very well in his time as a starting power forward. He’s averaged 16.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game, emulating a similar role Paul Pierce provided late last season in Brooklyn.
While Johnson has performed admirably in limited work, it is best he moves back to small forward to make room for Young to start. In his young Nets career, Young has averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. This numbers are incredibly valuable when considering he is only on the court for 22 minutes a game. To this point, Young is putting up the same numbers he did in Minnesota but in 11 less minutes per game. Young has been extremely efficient in a Nets unifrom this season.
One asset Johnson starting as a stretch power forward provides is his ability to stretch the floor. The Nets would not lose this as Young as capable of knocking down open threes. While this isn’t one of Young’s greatest attributes, shooting only 29% in Minnesota, he has hit on four of seven three point attempts with Brooklyn.
Young is overall a very efficient player. He doesn’t waste his talents on offense or defense. A career 50% shooter, Young has connected on 58% of his shots in five games with the Nets. While this number may drop a little, Young can still be expected to make more than half of his field goal attempts.
With Young starting at power forward and Johnson at small forward, the Nets could rotate starts at shooting guard. Markel Brown has impressed lately, and is deserving of quality minutes, but is not an every day starter. Young’s move into the starting lineup could force Brown into less starts and allow him to provide a burst off the bench. He could still start some games, splitting starts with Alan Anderson, Bojan Bogdanovic and even Jarrett Jack.
A key factor the Nets should weigh in starting Young is their future intentions with him. Young holds an early termination option next season and will be a free agent after that. If the Nets want Young to stay in Brooklyn for the foreseeable, they should coax him with a starting position.
Conversely, if the Nets want to budge Young towards exercising his option, they should keep him stashed on the bench. This is a decision the front office needs to make, but Young would most likely help the Nets moving forward and therefore should be rewarded with starts.
The Nets would be a better team right now and in the future with Young in their starting lineup. He allows Johnson to move to a more natural position, and prevents a young second round pick from getting overexposed too quickly. The Nets should continue to tinker with their starting lineup, and inserting Young is the first logical move.