Shawn Marks does not have a broker license, nor any kind of economy class. In fact, he studied political science at Cal Berkeley before joining the NBA. Regardless, he needed, and finally did, to poke around the NBA stock exchange this summer and use his pennies to turn a profit.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Brooklyn Networks He gave a new meaning to the term “chaos” during the 2022 season. After they were knocked out in the first round and with stars in the middle of the road, it became impossible to predict their future.
It didn’t matter to Marx, who had work to do.
Much like one of the trading floors across the bridge on Wall Street, endless “noise” surrounded the Brooklyn general manager as the NBA market opened in late June — a “noise” Marks said he ignored. To Marx’s left, he found nearly every other NBA executive, whispering trade pack Kevin Durant in his ear. To his left is a sea of reporters breathing down his neck.
But amidst the chaos, he kept his composure and focused on the task at hand. Despite his team’s hazy future and budget constrained by the vagaries of CBA rules, Marks didn’t need to reel in one, but multiple Influential players through minimal contracts. When he was primarily looking for Apple stock in 1980, Marks had to become Brooklyn’s “Wolf of Atlantic Avenue.”
Fortunately, this is a hat Marx has worn before.
With big names in and out of Brooklyn at a rapid pace over the past few years, it’s understandable to forget some of the low-cost, high-impact players the Nets have brought in over the past few years. That said, I’ll start with an easy one at Joe Harris.
As the longest serving, Harris signed with the team during Marks’ first off-season at the helm of the veteran minimum. His multiple seasons atop the league by 3 points should tell you enough about how this deal plays out. Bang for your buck? check.
Although no other home run hit like Harris, Marks hit again the following summer with Shabazz Napier. The presumptive draft was signed with Brooklyn for minimal as well. While his game didn’t really blossom much after that, he did set career high points off the bench for the Nets. Ed Davis, signed for $4 million, did the same in the rebounding department…and in the locker room, where the two formed the backbone of the “Go Hard” Nets bench.
During those rebuilding years, he first scouted Brooklyn, then kept Spencer Dinwiddie around, signing him to a series of team-friendly contracts until he was too good for such performances two summers ago. Dinwiddie, being the team’s first player off the bench or even a starter depending on the availability of D’Angelo Russell or Kyrie Irving, wore this all-important Super Sixth Man cape as well as everyone else.
Playing under a less lucrative deal with the effect still going, Geoff Green took over that mantle after Dinwiddie. And now, thanks to Marx’s work this summer, the Nets find themselves getting similar returns from replacement man TJ Warren.
I will finish my history lesson there. You should get the point by now. The Nets have made players signed on friendly deals and typically tied them in the sixth man role. Warren, who hasn’t played in two years, looks like no one many Cheap, but high quality glue guys for the team to use over the past few seasons. One can add Yuta Watanabe and Edmond Sumner to the family tree as well. And let’s not forget. Watanabe was signed on August 28 as a “camp invite”…his words.
However, this pedigree of coupon killers off the bench isn’t just a reason to applaud the Nets front office. I won’t stop you from applauding, but there’s more to unpack here in regards to the Brooklyn cap this year, specifically in regards to Warren’s impact since his return from injury.
It’s no secret that the NBA tournaments shorten the time for the playoffs. With matches so important, coaches want their best players on the field as often as possible. No stranger to the Nets, they have followed this widely adopted strategy in each of their past four playoff games under Marks. But even with the Brooklyn bench missing some time, the Nets thrived when a sixth man emerged and struggled when they didn’t during the postseason.
In Brooklyn’s playoff wins over the aforementioned stretch, the sixth man’s average usage rate (most minutes off the bench) averaged 17.6%. In their losses, the sixth man averaged 13.9. To paint the picture even better, of Brooklyn’s 25 total playoff games under Marks, their sixth man has recorded an utilization rate of less than 12.0 percent nine times and seven of those games have resulted in losses.
Also in the playoffs, when Brooklyn fails to make at least 10 points off their sixth man, they lose that contest 90.0% of the time compared to 53.3% of the time when the sixth man Do you Pass this mark (Brooklyn has a lot of playoff losses in this time period, so just add this for context.)
Even for those of you who rely more on an “eye test” than numbers, I encourage you to go back and rewatch some of our past Brooklyn encounters. The team’s death against Boston last year would certainly have come through four blasts rather than close ends without Goran Dragic playing off the bench.
The same can be said from the previous season regarding Jeff Green. Without Green’s ground spacing and clutch shooting, Durant’s Game 5 ripper of 49 points against the Bucks would likely result in a third straight loss rather than a pivotal victory to prolong the series. (ICYMI, Green had a 27 in that contest).
If the Nets get lucky, which primarily means KD recovers from his recent MCL injury and stays healthy over the course of the regular season, they could get similar results from Warren and thus pick up some postseason wins.
In the month of January, Warren averaged 13.0 points per game while shooting the Rock at 52.1% clip and just under 40% from depth. His ability to score specifically at all three levels puts him in position to be the X-factor this year off the bench and moving the needle at playoff time. Do you want other stats? Warren has now scored 13 times in double figures out of 19 games. Break 30 minutes once in those games.
Watanabe or Sumner don’t count either. Although neither player has a deep offensive bag like Warren, they both find themselves enjoying their career years. Watanabe averages just under seven points for the season on impressive .556/.506 splits. Sumner averages 6.8 points per game on the .456/.281 split.
Yes, they failed the MLE taxpayers this summer, but that was because free agents wondered what the networks would look like, would they have KD, Kyrie, KD without Kyrie, and Kyrie without KD? It has been reported.
For Brooklyn to carry bench weapons like this into battle is vital to their chances of winning anything. But again, it’s the price tag for said weapons that makes them all the more impressive.
With Warren as the big gun, as well as Watanabe and Sumner on their hips, Brooklyn is locked and loaded, ready to hurt Brooklyn’s opponents – but not their wallet.