The Nets have been moving the ball, and they’re reaping the benefits on the stat sheet.
The Nets are one of the hottest-shooting teams in all of basketball entering Monday’s matchup against the Orlando Magic, and head coach Jacque Vaughn says it’s because the team is generating better looks by making the extra pass.
Brooklyn is home to the NBA’s fourth-most efficient three-point shooting team. The Nets check in shooting 39.4% from downtown since Nov. 1 — just a tick behind Boston, Denver and Golden State, who are in a three-way tie at 40%.
The Nets are also Top-10 in threes made per game (12.8) in the month of November and have hit at least 15 threes in four of their last five games. The uptick in shooting efficiency loosely coincides with Vaughn securing the job as Steve Nash’s official replacement.
It’s no coincidence, then, that Brooklyn is also home to a top-five assisting team.
The Nets rank top-three in both three-point percentage (39.8%) and assists per game (28.6) since the Nets named Vaughn full-time head coach on Nov. 9. They are averaging 27.9 assists in the month of November, tying the Sacramento Kings for fourth-best.
“We really just shared the basketball. That’s with some balls not going in for us. There’s definitely some room for growth right there,” Vaughn said Monday. “I think having multiple ball-handlers, people who can create, whether that’s post-ups from Kevin [Durant], whether that’s double teams from Kevin, whether that’s Ben [Simmons] pushing in transition, it allows for us to use our shooting and spacing and capitalize on it, and we’ve done so.”
After starting the month with a loss to the Chicago Bulls they dropped them to a 2-6 record, the Nets have won eight of their last 13 games.
They enter Monday’s matchup against the Magic with an opportunity to reach .500 (11-11) for the first time since they were 1-1.
FREE THROW WOES
After ending the 2022 NBA Playoffs surpassing Shaquille O’Neale’s long-standing record of 10 straight missed free throws without a make in a game, Nic Claxton’s free throw shooting is showing faint signs of life.
Claxton is shooting a team-worst 44% from the foul line with opposing teams deploying the Hack-a-Clax method late in games, forcing Vaughn to bench one of his most versatile defenders.
The third-year big man, however, shot four-of-six against the Trail Blazers, two-of-two against Toronto and one-of-two in the previous matchup against Portland.
Vaughn said it’s “probably a little too early” to suggest Claxton has turned a corner in his free throw shooting.
“I think the turning the corner is feeling more comfortable at the line,” he said on Monday. “I definitely think it feels more comfortable in those situations. Portland tried to hack him at the end of the game last game and he felt more comfortable going on to the line. If there’s any kind of, you know, positive; I think that is the positive.”
Yuta Watanabe continues to miss time with a right hamstring strain.
Watanabe has not played since the Nets’ Nov. 20 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. Vaughn also ruled his reserve forward out for Wednesday’s matchup against the Washington Wizards.
“He’s still having some awareness in that hamstring. We will get him re-imaged and see what it looks like compared to his last image but he will not be available Wednesday,” Vaughn said. “We’ll check back and see what it looks like from there.”