LAS VEGAS – When the Nets begin the preseason Monday against the Lakers, their defense will look different.
And their larger bodies could be the biggest beneficiary.
The Nets have changed more than anyone in the NBA, taking advantage of the mobility of starting center Nic Claxton.
But that not only hurt their rebounding, but also kept their top rebounder from playing major minutes.
That could be about to change.
Although the Nets will still make plenty of changes, coach Jacque Vaughn will use more drop coverage than they have in the past two years.
This will help on the glass, not just schematically, but by allowing bruised backup Day’Ron Sharpe to fall to the floor more than he did in his first two seasons.
“The decline will mainly help us bounce back,” Sharpe told the Post. “When we changed from 1 to 5…it wasn’t so much Nic or me getting burned on every play. It was more because we were on the perimeter, they were shooting the ball, the other guys (are) there were recovering the rebounds.
“So, personally, I prefer to drop. I like having boards, I like being physical. And I don’t like it when I feel like my match is killing me either. So ultimately, I feel like this is going to help us a lot.
At 6-foot-9 and 265 pounds, Sharpe isn’t suited to guarding wings on the perimeter.
He’s built to fight on the boards (his 17.9 rebound percentage last season was 12th among qualified players) and to play in the drop.
“Personally, I feel like I’ve worked on everything: hip rotation, body movements, all that stuff,” Sharpe said. “So I’m trying to get to the point where no matter what we have to do, I can still play.
“But I’m a great rebounder, so the drop is obviously better for me when it comes to rebounding and boxing out, protecting the paint and not chasing small guards all around the court. So that suits me help.
The Nets still intend to change.
Sometimes it will be 1-3, sometimes 1-4, letting the center protect the edge.
But playing a higher drop coverage percentage will only put Sharpe on the ground more.
“Most of the time he was lost, but the other day we gave him the opportunity (to change), which we will do in matches where we have to be flexible to make adjustments during the match” , Vaughn said. “We gave him a pretty simple mission: what he’s supposed to do when that change happens, what shots he wants to give up. Overall, he’s been able to adapt pretty well.
It’s a big season for Sharpe.
After averaging just 11.8 minutes in 80 games over his first two seasons, 2024-25 is a team option.
He must make a good impression.
“The good thing is he has shown improvement in many areas. He really played extremely hard, and that pushed Nic. The physicality that Day’Ron plays with is great for Nic,” Vaughn said. “He handled his emotions extremely well and showed professionalism when something didn’t go his way. He showed growth that way.
“That was a big part of him being in or out of the lineup as a professional. He understood the concepts we want him to be involved in. Very good camp for Day’Ron: now the challenge for me with him all the time is to be able to do it again, day after day, day after day in third year. player.”
At 21 years old, Sharpe says it’s been both an offseason priority and a natural maturation.
“It was a little bit of both,” Sharpe said. “Coming in at 19 and then younger, I really didn’t know what the league was about. But in my first two years, I quickly learned what it was. For me to stay consistent and get the minutes I want, I have to do the things I want to get on the court.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the game. So if that’s what I have to do to play, that’s what I have to do. So maturity and being professional are both.
New York Post