The Brooklyn Nets are in an interesting place in their rebuild. The Nets have enough veteran talent alongside Mikal Bridges in players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Royce O'Neale to be competitive on both ends of the floor right now. While a lot hinges on the health of Ben Simmons, the Nets are in a bit of a transition stage with some difficult playing time decisions to make.
While Jacque Vaughn and his staff have rightfully decided to ride the veterans early on to decent success (10-9 record, +2.7 net rating) there may come a point in the season where Brooklyn has to decide what's more important: fighting for one of the last few playoff spots, or turning it over to more of the young players to evaluate who can fit next to Bridges moving forward.
If the Nets decide to be a seller before the deadline and move some of their playoff-ready veterans, here's the young player who should get a long, extended look with more playing time this season.
Day'Ron Sharpe deserves more minutes on the Nets
Day'Ron Sharpe, who was selected with the 29th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and traded in the Jevon Carter/Landry Shamet swap, is now in his third year in the league. For the most part, Sharpe has been a third-string center, but this season he's found a more consistent role as the backup 5 in Brooklyn.
Sharpe is a bit of a throwback big man, as he uses his large frame (6-foot-11, 265 pounds) to set big screens and carve out space in the dunker spot. The UNC product has soft hands and a good touch around the basket to pair with a great motor as well. Sharpe moves incredibly well for his size, and while he's not necessarily the most explosive player vertically, he does a good job moving horizontally.
The biggest thing Sharpe brings to the table is rebounding. Per 36 minutes over his career, Sharpe has averaged a whopping 6.5 offensive rebounds a game (14 total). Those are massive numbers. For context, only three players average more than 4 offensive rebounds per game (New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela, and Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams). It's not out of pocket to call Sharpe one of the league's best offensive rebounders already, even though he's played limited minutes throughout his career.
While foul trouble would keep Sharpe from playing that kind of minutes load realistically, it does paint a picture for the kind of numbers Sharpe could put up if he saw more consistent time. Sharpe also averages 15.9 points per game per 36 minutes over his career, so he's solid around the basket with his putbacks as well and is good at drawing fouls.
It's a small sample size (284 minutes) but the Nets have been +11.0 when Sharpe is on the floor. He's doing good things while he's out there, and given the uncertainty at the center position in Brooklyn for the long-term, it would be worthwhile for Jacque Vaughn to play Sharpe and see what he really has moving forward. The Nets are 5-1 this year when Sharpe plays at least 19 minutes, and the big man has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of those games. He's got a knack for it.
With Ben Simmons out, this is the perfect time for the Nets to ramp up Day'Ron Sharpe's minutes behind Nic Claxton. If the early season returns are any indication, the Nets may have found a very capable young center with an elite skill that should garner more playing time moving forward.