The New-Look New Jersey Nets
The New Jersey Nets needed a change. It had become painfully apparent that the three-headed monster of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson wasn’t going to take them anywhere near a NBA title, so the Nets decided to act.
The movement began last year when they parted ways with Kidd and from what we saw in the playoffs last season, it was a well-timed move. Yet, the Kidd trade was just the beginning of the roster turnover that would take place in the off-season. When you look at Nets roster as it stands today, you could hardly recognize them from a year ago.
Richard Jefferson was sent to NBA purgatory (also know as Milwaukee) in exchange for a project player in Yi Jianlian and a stop-gap player at small forward in Bobby Simmons. They went out and drafted a new center in Brook Lopez, along with a pair of forwards, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. New Jersey also dipped into free agency by signing forwards Jarvis Hayes and Eduardo Najera. They parted ways with Marcus Williams, who was once considered the future at point guard and replaced him with a steady veteran in Keyon Dooling.
So, where do the Nets stand right now? Are they just a team who is holding the fort until the full court press is made to bring LeBron James into the organization or can they contend in the improving Eastern Conference? As of today, Devin Harris and Vince Carter are their starting backcourt which is a promising start. Harris is just entering his prime and is an above average NBA starting point guard, while Carter should find some motivation in being the team’s unquestioned go-to player. Keyon Dooling is a good backup at point guard, although they are a little thin at shooting guard with Trenton Hassell and Maurice Ager, although they will be counting on Carter for major minutes
The rotation in the front line should be interesting to watch. Yi will start at power forward and if he can live up to his draft hype, the Nets will have a strong post presence for the next decade. Bobby Simmons will likely begin the year as the starting small forward but will be splitting minutes with Jarvis Hayes and Douglas-Roberts. The Nets would love to see CDR seize the starting position and prove to the rest of the NBA they made a mistake in letting him slide into the second round.
Sean Williams had an encouraging rookie season but the Nets are counting on Brook Lopez to provide some offense at the starting center position. If the Nets were smart, they would start Yi at small forward, let Willams start at power forward, and let Lopez be the starting center from day one; those three along with Harris and Carter are their best five right now. They have plenty of front line depth from Hayes, Eduardo Najera, Josh Boone and Stromile Swift.
The Nets have depth and size. If Vince Carter is in the proper state of mind, they have a legit go-to guy. They have a quality point guard and a good share of young talent. They should be good enough to compete for a 6-8 seed in the Eastern Conference and encourage LeBron that they are just one superstar away from being a NBA title contender.