Chicago Bulls: Ranking NBA’s best young cores today

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /
8 of 9
(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. Average age of starters: 24.8. brooklyn nets. player. 147. Depth Chart. (42-40). 2

In one of the surprise stories of the season, the Brooklyn Nets exploded on the scene and into the 2019 NBA Playoffs. After finishing just one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls last season, the Nets plowed their way to a 42-40 record despite key components of the roster missing significant time due to injury.

23-year old and de facto leader of the Nets D’Angelo Russell exploded for his best season to date (conveniently also his contract year). Russell improved as a highlight scorer, efficient playmaker and distributor, while also showing development on the defensive side of the court. Russell posted career bests across the board and provided a much needed presence to help transform Brooklyn into a contender.

Even after being named an all-star, Russell certainly didn’t do it without help. His teammates always helped shoulder the load when necessary. Caris Levert recuperated from his freak leg injury better than anyone could have expected, scoring 21 points per game in the playoffs on an unreal 46.2 percent from three.

Jarrett Allen evolved into a fan favorite and defensive stalwart, averaging over two blocks per 36 minutes. Allen’s defensive prowess was on full display this season, even stuffing 4x MVP LeBron James for a highlight block. Even Rodions Kurucs, drafted 40th overall last year, surpassed expectations to become an important contributor in Brooklyn’s rotation.

Most impressive of all, is that the core of this Brooklyn team was constructed by savvy management instead of tanking for the draft. Of the 13 players to log at least 500 minutes for the Nets this season, only Allen and Kurucs were drafted by the Nets.

Somehow, someway the Nets were able to climb out of the grave they dug for themselves in the infamous trade that brought the ghosts of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. Now the Nets find themselves equipped with enough cap room to potentially sign two max-level free agents as well as the 17th pick in this year’s draft.