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Can the Brooklyn Nets’ Defense Ever Be Good?

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives as Brooklyn Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith (28) and Brooklyn Nets forward Trendon Watford (9) defend during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center.

The Brooklyn Nets were expected to be one of the best defenses in the NBA this season. Despite the players they acquired since last season’s trade deadline, their defense has been worse than expected. So, with that being said, the question is:

Can the Brooklyn Nets’ Defense Ever Be Good?

We must lay out those expectations before getting into why the Nets‘ defense has been less than expected. Many believed that Brooklyn’s roster of switchable athletes could lead to stout defensive performances. Coming into the 2023-24 season, some thought that the Nets could be a top-10 defensive team.

Lack of Turnovers

One of the ways to be an effective defense in the NBA is to create turnovers through aggressive play. However, according to Basketball Reference, the Nets are 30th (last) in the league in opponent turnover percentage at 10.4%. From watching Brooklyn play defense this season, it looks like they are always trying to protect the paint. However, this defensive strategy limits how much the Nets can play in the passing lanes and disrupt the opposing offense’s rhythm.

It is also common for NBA teams nowadays to defend the three-point line and the rim to force less efficient shots. Brooklyn seems to be following that model, which forces their talented defenders to close out on the three aggressively. There is another area where the Nets struggle in terms of its effectiveness on the defensive end: second-chance points.

Giving Up Second-Chance Points

One of the other ways to have a productive defense in the NBA is to limit your opponent’s second-chance points. Essentially, being a good rebounding team, especially on the defensive glass, solves this issue. However, per, Brooklyn is one of the worst teams in the league in terms of second-chance points allowed (16.0).

What makes this area of their defensive performance startling is how good the Nets have been rebounding this season. Brooklyn is 13th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage, which reveals something even more dire. The Nets are giving up 1.29 points per possession on putbacks, showing how they allow so many second-chance points. Essentially, if the Nets’ opponent gets an offensive rebound, they will likely score on that possession somehow.

Three-Point Defense

It’s no secret that the Nets have been worse on the defensive end this season despite the talented personnel. One of the main reasons for that is how Brooklyn defends the three-point line.

While the Nets are defending in a way that forces mid-range shots on every possible possession, it has been hurting them. According to, Brooklyn is eighth in the league in opponent three-point percentage (35.0%), but the issue is volume.

The Nets allow opponents to make 13.8 threes per game (25th) and attempt 39.3 threes per game (29th). While Brooklyn is effective in terms of three-point percentage defense, they’re still allowing a lot of shots.

The Last Word

While the Nets have the personnel to have a great defensive team, they are less effective in important areas with regard to defense. To be a great defense in the NBA, a team must consistently be solid in most areas. To turn it around, they will have to change how they defend and commit to it.


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