What’s wrong with the Nets? The problem is front and center

for The Brooklyn Paper
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You can try blaming Nets general manager Billy King’s inaction before the trade deadline or pinning it to Deron Williams’ ailing ankles, but the real reason Brooklyn is struggling is its increasingly inefficient front court.

Center Brook Lopez, the front court leader, has not been nearly as dominant as he was in the first half of the season since returning from the All-Star break.

Kris Humphries is not the same player who averaged a double-double the past two seasons.

His replacement in the starting lineup, Reggie Evans, has played above and beyond expectations this year, but his added minutes have taken away his greatest asset: his energy. Evans came to Brooklyn to provide depth, experience, rebounding, and that toughness that borough fans eat up — but he has already played in more games than he has since his 2008-2009 season in Philly.

The lone bright spot of late for the Nets front court is Andray Blatche, who is averaging 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in less than 19 minutes.

But Brooklyn can’t expect Blatche to hold his own against the league’s best — so with a frontcourt not competing at its maximum capacity, what is interim coach P.J. “Peej” Carlesimo to do?

One option would be to look at Mirza Teletovic, who has been seeing some extended minutes lately. What Teletovic lacks compared to Evans on the boards, he certainly makes up for with his scoring.

Another option would be to go back to the original plan of starting Humphries alongside Lopez. But based on Humphries’ minutes of late, a starting lineup featuring the two bigs seems just as unlikely as a Kardashian-Humphries reunion.

There’s the possibility of playing Lopez and Blatche at the same time, which Carlesimo said he doesn’t oppose, but it’s unclear how the two would work together on the floor.

With glaring deficiencies at the four-spot and no additions made at the trade deadline, it’s up to Carlesimo to figure out how to maximize the talent on this team. He’s got 21 games to put it all together. For the Playoffs and for his future in Brooklyn.

Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.

Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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