One could argue it didn't necessarily need to be upgraded. After all, the bench was one of the Nets’ strengths last season. Andray Blatche rediscovered himself, and Brooklyn received significant contributions from C.J. Watson and Reggie Evans, and got surprisingly good minutes from Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Bogans. But this year, it will be a different cast of characters, ones that need to spell some aging starters.
So what can we expect from this revamped bench?
Jason Terry is instant offense, plain and simple. It may take a few games for him to get into a rhythm, but when he finds his stroke, he’ll be called upon to knock down clutch shots. He should be viewed as much as a scoring threat as Joe Johnson. They don't lose much with Joe on the bench.
The chemistry between Blatche and Evans off the bench will be something to keep an eye on. Both are high-energy players, and they had a chemistry while on the floor together in 2012-13 before Evans was thrust into a starting role. With Evans crashing the boards on both ends, and Blatche begin given more latitude to show off his offensive game, the team should be able to give Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett enough rest.
Watson’s shot will be missed, but Shaun Livingston proved in the preseason that he could run an offense. That's key, since it’s tough to expect that Deron Williams will be pushed to the limit early on. Alan Anderson looked good shooting from the outside in the preseason, and if given a chance, Mirza Teletovic may be called upon to be another offensive source from the wing. This year could be make-or-break for Teletovic, so he has to be ready to seize the opportunity arises.
The x-factor is Andrei Kirilenko. He’s been slowed by back spasms, which may ultimately force him to miss Wednesday night’s season opener. But when he’s healthy, he just everything well on a basketball court. He has a solid mid-range offensive game, he has good length (which helps him grab rebounds at both ends), and he’s a pesky defender. If he’s not rushed back, he should be he most steady contributor off the bench.
Mason Plumlee, Tyshawn Taylor, and Toko Shengelia may not see too much time, unless there’s a major injury. But if I had to bet, Plumlee will be called upon more than the others. We saw some flashes of brilliance from the first rounder in preseason, but we also saw some rookie mistakes. Those are going to happen, but the Nets are less positioned to live with growing pains than ever before.
While Garnett, Pierce, Johnson, Lopez and Williams will still receive the bulk of the attention, the bench’s play will be essential to the makings of a championship contender. Oh, and let's get them a new name. Blatche or Evans will likely have that one covered.