Early Season New Jersey Nets Review
New Jersey Nets
It is safe to say fans of the New Jersey Nets were not happy with seeing Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson shipped off to other teams. It signified the end of an era. While it is probably accurate to say Jersey fans were in denial about the Nets rosters for the past years, you can understand the fear of reverting back to the Nets of 90’s, a team usually referred to as "Clippers East".
But is this Nets team as bad as experts project? Could this roster as constituted, make the playoffs?
If Vince Carter and Devin Harris can stay healthy for most of the year, then I think this team could definitely make a run. Early on, regardless of the record, I’ve seen some potential out of this team. Starting with some individual play:
Brook Lopez- As expected, Brook is going through typical rookie problems, getting called for offensive fouls on moving screens, or turning the ball over on traveling violations. On the other hand, Brook’s length has made him a rebounding and shot blocking force in the limited time he sees. The offense may not be there yet, but it’s always refreshing to hear a rookie want to put his defense before his offense.
If the Nets do indeed struggle and are blatantly out of contention, I sure hope Brook gets heavy minutes.
Yi Jianlian- I liked Yi from what I saw last year, but I’ve been more enamored with his shooting touch this year. Don’t get me wrong, he has been inconsistent shooting the ball but has shown flashes, most notably against Miami Monday night, scoring 24 points (5 for 6 behind 3 point line) and 10 rebounds. As time goes on this season, Yi is going to feel more comfortable in the offense, where in crucial times he is required to make shots off of the attention Vince Carter garners. His rebounding has improved, but Yi still needs to work on his defense. Watching Yi switch to a guard on a pick and roll often results in a basket or a foul.
In the future the Nets would like to see Jianlian develop a back-to-basket game, but you gotta crawl before you walk. Yi could still be a solid third option this season if he keeps his confidence up. Future first option? Has the potential, but potential doesn’t mean guarantee by any means.
Devin Harris- Devin struggled to start out the year, but broke out last Friday against the Detroit Pistons, netting 38 points. The question on Devin is shooting the ball consistently, and making the right decisions as the point guard. Its a work in progress for Devin who is known more as a scoring guard.
I’d like to see Devin crash the boards a little bit more and hit the open court. With his speed, its hard for anybody to contain him.
In my mind, for the Nets to have a chance at contending for one of the last playoff spots, collectively, they have to show improvement in these two areas:
Defense-Right now the Nets are giving up 100 ppg. That shouldn’t be a surprise with all of the young players the Nets are putting out there right now. Lawrence Frank has long been known as a defensive strategist, but if you don’t have the personnel it doesn’t really matter. Could the Nets improve on this end? Possibly, but by all means, not to a defensive juggernaut.
Shooting- This is the area where I think the Nets have the most likely hood for improvement. The Nets are averaging 93 ppg, which is around the average the Nets have held for the last couple of years. But with bringing in shooters like Jarvis Hayes, Yi Jianlian, and Bobby Simmons(streaky shooter), I expect the Nets to grow offensively with time. This is a team with a lot of new parts, but as I said before, when the dust settles its about knocking down open looks playing off of Vince Carter. It’s a really good situation for guys like Hayes, Simmons, and Jianlian.
As far as playoff chances, I put more stock into the East lately not being that good. Every year, people say "The East is going to be much improved", but it never happens. I could be wrong, but I’d certainly like to see it first. If the East shakes out like I think it will, I could see Jersey making a run at the 8 spot. We’ve seen crazier things in the basketball world.
Could the Nets make a run for the playoffs? Will they have a better shot at winning the lottery? Let us know in the comments box.