In the old NBA, you never would have seen 7-foot, 268-pound Nets center Brook Lopez or 6-11, 270-pound Kings center DeMarcus Cousins straying very far out of the paint. But the two behemoths have developed into three-point specialists this season.
Both came into Sunday night’s game at Barclays Center with 25 made three-pointers. Cousins’ three-point percentage of .379 was slightly higher than Lopez’s .362, very good numbers for players of any dimension.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and Kings coach Dave Joerger are among the new wave of coaches who believe big men who can make threes help a team’s offensive efficiency.
“DeMarcus is shooting close to four a game,” Atkinson noted. “With DeMarcus shooting the way he’s shooting, that’s a tough cover. The skill has to be there. The threat has to be there, and DeMarcus and Brook are two guys who can do it. I would think you would be crazy not to use that weapon.”
More NBA teams are using big men from three-point range to spread the floor and open space for teammates on offense. “It gives teams more room to operate, and it brings more variety to the offense,” Atkinson said. “So you’re not just defending one thing. It’s definitely a trend.’’
Chris McCullough has shuttled between the Nets’ roster and the D-League LI Nets all season, and Anthony Bennett joined him Sunday. Bennett had 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals and McCullough added 15 points and nine rebounds in the LI Nets’ loss to Grand Rapids during the afternoon at Barclays Center. Both returned to the Nets’ roster before the Kings game.
“I’m a big believer in the D-League,” Atkinson said. “It helps guys’ confidence. It’s helpful that our D-League coach [Ronald Nored] was with us all preseason and we’re running the same system. It’s enormously helpful to do it here at the Barclays Center.”