Starting Five: Bench Paul Pierce?


When Paul Pierce gets healthy, the Brooklyn Nets would be better-suited with him coming off the bench than starting.

Pierce (bruised right hand) has been a starter throughout his career, starting 1,114 of the 1,117 regular-season games he's played. In fact, last time he came off the bench was in 2006-07.

But he's 36 now, and this season, his first with the Nets, has been a struggle. In his last 11 games, Pierce is shooting just 31.1 percent from the field -- including 23.8 percent from 3-point range.

Pierce and shooting guard Joe Johnson, both methodical players who like to have the ball in their hands, do not play well together. The Nets have been outscored by an average of 5.4 points per 100 possessions in the 335 minutes Pierce and Johnson have been on the court with one another (95.6 points for, 101.0 points allowed).

Pierce, who has a below-average Player Efficiency Rating (12.15), ranks ninth in usage rate (the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes) among small forwards. It would probably be easier on everyone if he became the focal point of the second unit. As a result, his ball-dominant ways would not be a detriment to the starting group.

Meanwhile, Johnson, 32, has been playing better of late, averaging 19.7 points in his last seven games. He anchored the second unit for the Nets last season, with plenty of success. So, if the Nets decided to move Johnson, who thrives in isolation and spot-up situations, to the bench, that could also work.

First-year coach Jason Kidd probably won't do it. In the NBA, it's rare for players making a ton of money to come off the bench and sacrifice their starting role for the betterment of the team.

But, whether it's Pierce or Johnson, it makes a lot of sense. And it's not like a demotion or anything.

It's more of an opportunity to maximize both players' value.

Whether they'd see it that way, though, is another story.

Question: What do you think about the above idea? Let us known in the comments section.

In case you missed it: The Nets looked like a different team in Memphis.

Stat of the day: The Nets have failed to win consecutive games so far this season.

Up next: Ohm Youngmisuk has you covered for Monday's practice. There could be news on the injury front regarding Deron Williams, who was to be re-evaluated Monday.