The Brooklyn Nets lost Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and other pieces to acquire 3-time scoring champion James Harden. The Beard is averaging 24.1 PPG and 11.9 APG through 7 games with Brooklyn, so clearly this move made a ton of sense. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have found their third superstar to form an all-time great trio that should be enough to get Brooklyn to the Finals. But there are some problems, particularly on defense.
Losing Jarrett Allen means that 32-year old DeAndre Jordan is the only capable big man on the roster. Jordan is playing only 20.5 MPG, and the Nets need to find support around the rim to snatch rebounds and play defense at a high level. Harden and Kyrie are not known for their defense and Durant cannot be expected to dominate both ends of the floor after coming off an Achilles injury. Luckily, there are some big men the Nets can acquire if they play their cards right.
Here are the top 5 centers the Brooklyn Nets can acquire to replace Jarrett Allen’s impact in the paint and ensure an Eastern Conference Finals berth.
5. Robin Lopez
2020-2021 Statistics: 7.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Trade Package: Landry Shamet, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown for Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez has always been an excellent role player and there is a reason he is playing 18.2 MPG at nearly 33 years old. The Wizards desperately need a center after Thomas Bryant’s injury, and Lopez has done an admirable job so far. But the Wizards are also in deep trouble with the worst record in the East, and they are likely losing Bradley Beal soon. The Nets would have to give up three players for this to happen because Lopez can help the team immediately this season while Harris gives the Wizards a third scorer in the lineup with Beal and Westbrook.
4. Hassan Whiteside
2020-2021 Statistics: 6.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Trade Package: Landry Shamet, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot for Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside has seen his numbers fall across the board with Sacramento this season, mainly because he is only playing 12.9 MPG. Whiteside will never be an All-Star, but he will always be 7-feet tall with incredible length. So Brooklyn can acquire him to have an imposing presence in the paint, and playing for a contender might improve his effort on both ends of the floor. The Kings are not getting much from Whiteside right now, so a trade for a sharpshooter like Shamet and an athletic wing in Luwawu makes sense.
3. Jonas Valanciunas
2020-2021 Statistics: 14.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Trade Package: Joe Harris for Jonas Valanciunas
Convincing Memphis to take a deal for Valanciunas is probably one of the toughest things to do, but Brooklyn should go for it. The Lithuanian center is powerful around the basket on offense and is a great rebounder. He will replace Allen’s rebounding immediately while also giving a low-post threat to diversify the offense a bit more. Brooklyn will have to part with Joe Harris, but they are getting a double-double machine to play off Durant, Irving, and Harden.
2. Kevin Love
2020-2021 Statistics: 9,5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Trade Package: DeAndre Jordan, Joe Harris, Landry Shamet, Jeff Green for Kevin Love
Kevin Love to the Brooklyn Nets would create one of the best starting lineups in NBA history. The Nets are already unstoppable on offense, but adding Love’s shooting would be just ridiculous. Love has experience playing with Kyrie in the Finals so this could legitimately work with Durant and Harden by their side. The Nets won’t have much size with Love but at least he can grab boards when no one else can. Brooklyn acquired DeAndre Jordan because of his close relationship with Kevin Durant, but including him in a deal (along with 3 big pieces) should be enough for Cleveland to ship off their former All-Star.
1. Andre Drummond
2020-2021 Statistics: 18.9 PPG, 14.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.4 BPG
By far the best option for the Nets is All-Star Andre Drummond. Drummond would be the best interior defender that the Nets could find, along with the best possible lob-partner for James Harden. Harden is the best at attacking the paint and feeding Drummond for easy 2’s would likely be the main play on offense when Durant or Kyrie aren’t going iso. Drummond is the league’s best rebounder at 14.7 RPG and he is making over $28 million this season, which means that the only way to acquire him would be if Cleveland buys him out. If that happens, the Nets are making the Finals with certainty.