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Friday, July 19, 2013
Don't overlook Brooklyn's bench

By Mike Mazzeo

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the reserves.

For all the talk about how potent the Nets’ projected starting five -- Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez -- will be, their projected bench is going to be pretty darn potent too.

Andray Blatche
Think the Brooklyn bench is a joke? Think again.
Take a look at these stats:

PG Shaun Livingston:
22 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 48 pct fg
SG Jason Terry: 26.9 mpg, 10.1 ppg, 43.4 pct fg
SF Andrei Kirilenko: 31.8 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 50.7 pct fg
PF Reggie Evans: 24.6 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 47.9 pct fg
C Andray Blatche: 19 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 51.2 pct fg

Some takeaways:

1. Add their scoring up, and it’s nearly 44 points per game. Individually, Terry, Kirilenko and Blatche all averaged in double figures last season. That’s a nice luxury to have.

2. Injuries are definitely going to be a concern for the Nets this season, but they appear to have enough depth to at least get by. Terry, Kirilenko and Blatche could start for a lot of NBA teams. If first-year coach Jason Kidd decides to give veterans like Garnett or Pierce the night off to rest and keep them fresh for the playoffs, he’s got some nice fill-in options.

3. There’s a lot of versatility. Livingston, at 6-foot-7, can defend shooting guards; Terry, a terrific 3-point shooter, can space the floor and play both guard spots if he needed; Kirilenko is efficient and can guard multiple positions while being more than capable at both forward spots; Evans brings energy and is a tenacious rebounder; while Blatche is a skilled offensive player who can play both power forward and center. Kidd will be able to deploy a bunch of interesting lineups -- whether he decides to go small or big.

4. Last season, the Nets used Joe Johnson to anchor their second unit. This season, they have the luxury of using Johnson or Pierce if they want to move Kirilenko to the four spot. There’s really no reason Johnson should average 36.7 minutes this season.

5. Mirza Teletovic doesn’t appear to figure in the rotation, or does he? For all his struggles making the transition from Europe to the NBA, Teletovic shot 34.3 percent from 3-point range last season. He’s the type of guy that could provide instant offense and spacing if the team is in a rut offensively. Again, on an older team, injuries might end up giving Teletovic an opportunity. Same goes for Mason Plumlee, the team’s first-round pick who impressed with his high motor and basketball IQ in summer league play.