The Brooklyn Nets enter the 2023-24 season with a fully revamped roster. After posting a 12-15 record and being swept in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers following the midseason trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn will have a full offseason and training camp to incorporate a bevy of new faces.
Among the new-look roster's top players is fifth-year forward Cam Johnson. After signing a four-year, $94.5 million extension this summer, Johnson revealed what excites him most about the Nets' 2023-24 campaign:
“To see our team establish our own identity,” he said Thursday on The Old Man and the Three podcast with J.J. Redick. “Which last season was really hard given the circumstances. You’re traded to a team midseason, you’re trying to figure out a lot on the fly. I think the most exciting thing is really hammering out who we want to be as a team, and then using the unique pieces that we have to our advantage.”
Cam Johnson says the Nets being able to establish their own identity excites him most about this season:
“Last season that was really hard given the circumstances. You’re traded to a team midseason; you’re trying to figure out a lot on the fly. I think the most exciting thing is… pic.twitter.com/6td4cMageY
— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) September 29, 2023
The Nets enter 2023-24 with the bulk of their rotation from the second half of last season. Ben Simmons, Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Johnson and Nic Claxton make up the projected starting five. Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O'Neale will be fixtures as veterans off the bench. Dennis Smith Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, Darius Bazley and Trendon Watford will compete for rotation spots after signing for the minimum, while Cam Thomas and Day'Ron Sharpe will attempt to carve our roles in their third seasons.
Johnson pointed to the roster's versatility on both ends when breaking down the roster:
“I think we have unique pieces,” he said. “Nic Claxton is a very unique center in his ability to run, guard every position, (be a) lob threat. Obviously Ben opens the game completely for guys like me and Mikal. Then Spence, Doe, Royce, we’re very interchangeable. Defensively we should be really, really good.”
While Brooklyn didn't make a splash move this summer, there was a clear shift toward youth, length and athleticism. The team swapped out aging shooters and defensive liabilities in Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Seth Curry for young, versatile athletes in Smith Jr., Walker IV, Bazley and Watford. Those changes should strengthen the Nets' switch-heavy defensive scheme and defensive rebounding (28th in 2022-23).
Brooklyn has eight players who ranked in the 80th percentile or better in defensive estimated plus-minus last season, per dunksandthrees.com. That includes three former Defensive Player of the Year candidates: Mikal Bridges, Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton. The Nets' roster posts an average height of 6-foot-6 and an average wingspan of 6-foot-9.
The team is also far younger than in years past, posting an average age of 24.7 years. That would have been the seventh-youngest in the league entering 2022-23. Brooklyn entered last season with an average age of 27.6 years, the NBA's fifth-oldest roster.
The Nets will open training camp on Oct. 3 before traveling to Las Vegas ahead of their preseason opener on Oct. 9 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. Brooklyn's regular-season opener is set for Oct. 25 at home vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.