Whether it’s astronomy or the NBA, the rules are still the same. Everybody and everything orbits the stars, not the other way around.
For the Nets, that means everybody adjusts to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
With training camp having officially started Tuesday, and the players having been working out informally well before that, nobody had to tell them that specifically. After all, it’s common sense.
“There hasn’t been any explicit talks,” Spencer Dinwiddie said via Zoom. “Moreso just look at KD and Kyrie and they’re going to be ball-dominant; you’ve got to know that.
“One is the greatest scorer of all time. You’ve got to really recognize that, and get the ball where it needs to go. So you know everybody else needs to process and act accordingly, and then do what’s best to help the team win. There hasn’t been any explicit conversations, but to think that you’re going to be trying to take the ball out of KD’s hands probably isn’t the smartest thing.”
Part of the benefit of Durant — and to an extent Irving — isn’t just what they can do, but what they can help others do.
Both stars have such gravity that they’ll draw defenses, and get the other Nets open looks. Now they’ll just have to adjust to better take advantage of them.
That means Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert — who’ve both been ball-dominant, high-usage rate players themselves over the past couple of years — will have to play more off the ball, and should benefit from additional catch-and-shoot opportunities, a more efficient look than trying to score off the bounce. (Players shot almost six points higher on catch-and-shoot 3s than pull-ups from 2013-14 to midway through 2018-19.)
“I’ve been working on a lot of different things; I’ve been working on that as well,” LeVert said of catch-and-shoot efficiency. “But honestly that hasn’t been something I’ve been asked to do at a large volume in the NBA.
“When I was in college I did it a lot. That’s something that I’m honestly looking forward to not even showing people that I can do, just doing it. I haven’t really been asked to do that stuff in the NBA. So I love playing off the ball. It’s fun for me. I can’t wait to do that this season; it’s going to be very beneficial for all of us.”
While Dinwiddie hasn’t been known as a reliable threat from deep, Durant and Irving can help them. He shot just 27.7 percent on pull-ups from behind the arc last season, but was a solid 37.3 on catch-and-shoot 3s.
After only 14.3 percent of his attempts last season were of the catch-and-shoot variety, that figure is almost certain to go up — as, the Nets hope, will his efficiency.
LeVert — who was fourth in the league in isolation attempts last season, and had a career-high 28.4 usage rate — took an even lower percentage of catch-and-shoot attempts than Dinwiddie at just 10.8. One of those rare players who’s more effective off the bounce, LeVert worked on his catch-and-shoot over the summer — as did wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, vying for a rotation spot.
“The way the team is built, I know and I believe that I’m not going to be on the ball, with the ball that much on the court. So just work on catch-and-shoot, rhythm shots, running in transition, get some dribble shots, pull over behind the screen, all these types of things,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said.
“We have … a higher level with our goals as a team this year, way higher. We want to get to the top, and that has to come from us. Everybody in this team has to put his work in and has to do his job on the court, so if it has to come from catch-and-shoot during practices, get better at that, that’s what we’re going to do.”