In early September, the Brooklyn Nets elected to hire Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as their next head coach. The two sides agreed on a four-year contract in a deal that would allow Nash to mentor the young roster.
General Manager Sean Marks was enthusiastic about recruiting Nash to the position. “In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players. I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His instincts for the game, combined with an inherent ability to communicate with and unite players towards a common goal, will prepare us to compete at the highest levels of the league.”
Within the roster, the Nets have one of the most versatile players in the NBA in Kevin Durant. After rehabbing from a ruptured right Achilles in June of 2019, he is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the 2020-21 season.
In regards to planning around Durant, Nash has a rather unique mindset about how to put him in the position to be successful.
“Kevin, with his length, is a matchup problem for everyone,” Nash said. “[Kyrie Irving’s] excellent off the ball. Kevin can play all five positions, and I plan to use him in all five positions.”
Durant, listed at 6’10” and 240 pounds, averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game during the 2018-19 season with the Golden State Warriors.
In today’s age where small ball is being utilized more, it’s not difficult to imagine Durant being inserted at the center position in select games. It could grant the Nets the opportunity to spread out their offense and increase the speed of their transition play. Last season, the Nets ranked last in regards to their average offensive speed.
At the same time, Durant being inserted at the guard position on off-days for Kyrie Irving or Caris LeVert allows for a major size advantage for Brooklyn. The team was already the second-tallest team on average during the 2019-20 season. It could be a similar situation to what the Cleveland Cavaliers completed during their time with both Irving and LeBron James on the roster.
The gameplan for the Nets will likely be a game-by-game basis; dependent on the dynamics of the opposing roster. With a player such as Durant on the depth chart, it’s an advantage for Nash to have.
The relationship between Durant and Nash has been a positive one for quite some time.
“His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it’s going to help the rest of the team,” Durant said. “Every time I’m in the gym with him, I was always like a sponge. I’m looking forward to this man. I always feel like I’m a student of the game. Somebody who has experienced so much and played in different eras, I’m looking forward to him teaching me some more things about it as well.”