Thursday , Oct , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

New Jersey Nets 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – New Jersey is the best team in arguably the weakest
division in the NBA. It was an uneventful offseason for the Nets, who will
enter the 2006-07 campaign as the favorite to capture the Atlantic Division
for a second straight season.

The Nets finished 49-33 during the 2005-06 campaign and finished 11 games
ahead of the second-place Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic. In the
postseason, they defeated the Indiana Pacers in six games in the opening round
but were bounced in the conference semis by the eventual world champion Miami
Heat in five contests.

Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd give the Nets three star
players. The All-Star Carter, who shined in the postseason, led the team in
scoring (24.2 ppg), while Kidd dished out a team-best 8.4 assists and
Jefferson averaged 19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. As good as these three
players are they still need help.

Nenad Krstic continues to get better. The 7-0 Krstic registered 13.5
points and 6.4 boards in 80 contests during the 2005-06 campaign. The 7-0
center is a solid player and important piece to New Jersey’s puzzle.

Not to be forgotten is the draft. Even though New Jersey didn’t make a big
splash in free agency or make any major trades, it did have a solid draft.
Drafting Connecticut products Marcus Williams and Josh Boone with the 22nd and
23rd overall picks had to have New Jersey’s front office smiling. Williams’
stock dropped for some reason, but New Jersey was not going to pass on the
pure point guard at No. 22. Even though Jason Kidd is the lead guard, the Nets
did the right thing and selected the best player available with their first
pick. The 6-10 Boone has a good work ethic, can rebound and adds some size to
the Nets’ roster. New Jersey added a power forward in Boone who will fill a
role and do the little things that helps teams win.

Veteran Clifford Robinson, who turns 40 on December 16th, did re-sign with the
club during the offseason. Robinson averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 80
games last season for the Nets. He will be entering his 18th season in the
league.

Head coach Lawrence Frank returns to the bench. Since becoming the team’s
general on January 26, 2004, Frank has guided New Jersey to a 116-88 record.
The Nets have reached the playoffs in all three of his campaigns at the helm,
and have captured two division crowns. Frank owns a 12-14 record in the
playoffs.

New Jersey’s success once again sits firmly on the shoulders of Carter,
Jefferson and Kidd. The Nets are a solid basketball organization from the
front office to the head coach to the players.

BACKCOURT

The 33-year-old Kidd, who is a seven-time All-Star, is still one of the top
lead guards in the league. He loves to get out on the break and feed one of
his athletic teammates, Carter and Jefferson, on the wing with a dynamic pass
that leads to an easy bucket or a thunderous dunk. The Nets need the 6-4 Kidd
to continue to stay at All-Star level if they hope to be a serious factor in
the East.

Team Carter with Kidd and the Nets have one of the top backcourts in the NBA.
A six-time All-Star, the 29-year-old Carter, who will also log minutes at
small forward, has been rejuvenated since being dealt by Toronto to the Nets
on December 17, 2004. Carter has become a leader on the Nets and is the No. 1
option when the team needs a big hoop.

New Jersey signed free agent shooting guard Eddie House on August 17th. The
28-year-old House averaged 9.8 points in 81 games for Phoenix last season.
House will be expected to give the Nets an offensive spark off the bench. He
shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc for the Suns and will be entering his
seventh year in the league.

The rookie Williams, Antoine Wright, who was selected out of Texas A&M by New
Jersey in the first round (15th overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft, will also
compete to earn minutes behind Carter and Kidd.

FRONTCOURT

Jefferson, Krstic and Jason Collins makeup a formidable starting frontcourt.
The 6-7 Jefferson and Krstic can both score, while the 7-0 Collins, who
averaged 3.6 points and 4.8 boards in 71 contests last season, is a big body
who takes up space down low for the Nets.

Robinson is versatile and can play all three positions up front. Seven-footer
Mikki Moore, who was acquired from Seattle for a 2009 second-round draft pick
during the offseason, and 7-1 Mile Ilic give New Jersey a lot of size on the
bench.

The Nets are looking for Krstic to continue to develop and for Jefferson to
keep up his All-Star caliber play. Jefferson and Krstic are the keys to New
Jersey’s frontcourt. The rest are role players who Frank expects to do the
dirty work in the paint.

OUTLOOK

Carter, Jefferson and Kidd are good enough to get the Nets 45-50 victories and
their second straight division crown. However, the playoffs will be a
different story. While New Jersey is good enough to win a first-round series
with the right matchup, it will hit a huge bump in the road when it goes up a
against a team like Cleveland, Detroit or Miami.

NJN