Grading the 2022-23 Nets season
To say Brooklyn was quickly swept out of the first round of the playoffs after flipping its entire core roster a couple months earlier would be short of a proper summation of the rollercoaster that was the 2022-23 Nets season. Yet some individual players were able to shine despite the wackiness of the year.
Let’s grade each Brooklyn Net on their performance this regular and postseason relative to expectations.
Mikal Bridges: A
The future has arrived. The key return of the Kevin Durant trade excelled in his new role from the get-go, then validated that performance in the playoffs.
Bridges averaged 26.1 points on .607 true shooting during the season, and 23-5-4 in the first round against the Sixers. Extremely promising stuff from the new franchise centerpiece.
Cam Johnson: A
Another addition from Phoenix, Johnson proved himself a multifaceted scorer as a Net, with 17 points a night on .610 true shooting on the year. He stepped it up in the playoffs, drilling 43 percent of his threes on 19 a game.
Ben Simmons: D
On the flip side, the key returning piece of the James Harden deal failed to even perform near his prior abilities. Simmons was unsure and hurt, with the lone positives being his accepting of multiple roles and a nice small stretch early in the season
Nic Claxton: A-
Claxton emerged as an elite defensive anchor this season, but couldn’t make up the talent gap on the roster once the stars requested out. His free throw shooting and offense outside of the restricted area will be points of improvement going forward.
Royce O’Neal: C+
An effective connector that killed it pre-blowup but struggled with added offensive responsibility. The disappearing act during the playoffs was the toughest blow.
Joe Harris: C
A somewhat promising if not limited return to action. Also benefited from playing off Durant and Irving, and couldn’t get anything going in the postseason.
Seth Curry: B+
Curry’s usual production, in a less consistent role. Another victim of the roster change, being that he is more of a finisher than a shot creator.
Yuta Watanabe: A-
A tantalizing, fun breakout story early in the season that we didn’t get enough of down the stretch. Nets need to make room for him in the rotation next season.
Cam Thomas: B-
Simultaneously an elite, record-breaking one man scoring machine when given the keys, and unplayable in a team concept or winning situation. His string of three straight 40-plus-point games in three losses about sum it up.
Edmond Sumner: C+
A dynamo at the guard position that was thrust into big minutes when the team was searching for answers early and fell off the map once the roster was overcrowded. There were interesting facets to his game but his shaky shooting was tough to overcome.
Day’Ron Sharpe: C+
Sharpe took a step as a prospect but not a big enough one to earn more burn, then got ran off the road come the playoffs. There’s still undeniable talent there if he can put in a big summer.
Patty Mills: D+
Only appeared in 40 games, and won’t do much for the Nets but provide some veteran leadership at this point.
Dorian Finney-Smith: C-
A star in his 3-and-D role, Finney-Smith struggled having to do more himself with few creators around him. His three ball wasn’t the sharpest in Brooklyn either.
Spencer Dinwiddie: B
The Nets were way more reliant on Dinwiddie than any team should be, so he earns points for volume and earns some slack on the shaky efficiency. The fact that he was able to step up in the playoffs is commendable as well, even if he isn’t a major part of the Nets’ future.
Steve Nash: D
It never felt as if Nash had control of this team from the jump, and his exit was so inevitable and unceremonious it almost felt like a formality so the Nets could truly begin their season.
Jacque Vaughn: B
Vaughn left some adjustments on the table in a series his team wasn’t likely to win, but otherwise made the most out of a rough hand. We’ll see if the Nets regret not waiting for this massive inflow of candidates to extend him.
First-half team: C+
This team actually looked like a contender for a material stretch of the season’s first half. But a messy start and explosive end make it tough to look back on that time fondly.
Second-half team: B+
A livelier playoff effort would have been nice, but who can blame a team cobbled together on the fly? In spite of the drama that preceded them, they avoided the Play-In Tournament and found a couple building blocks.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving: F-
Brooklyn sold its soul to these two and paid the price.