Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brooklyn Nets Preview

At the beginning of free agency, the East looked like a three horse race this year, with Indy and Boston coming behind Miami. That all changed when Joe Johnson was traded to the Nets, and Dwight Howard was kept in Orlando for the time being. If you ask me, the Nets may be a better team without the superstar. They were able to hold onto two big men, a low post scorer in Brook Lopez, and a double digit machine in Kris Humphries. They were also able to keep a hold of the young scorer Marshon Brooks from Providence, who looks like he could blossom into a 20 points a night guy.

So, lets look at the Nets roster for this year. 

PG: Williams/Watson/Taylor
SG: Johnson/Brooks/Bogans
SF: Wallace/Stackhouse/Shengelia
PF: Humprhies/Evans/Teletovic
C: Lopez

Aside from Center, every position is extremely deep. The starting five is as good as any in the league with Deron Williams leading from the point and Johnson and Gerald Wallace scoring from the wings. The team doesn't have a legitimate "big three" but Williams is the second best PG in the league, while Johnson is probably a tier two or three shooting guard. You know what you're going to get from Lopez and Humphries, but they both are solid players who do what they're asked of (Lopez scores, Humphries rebounds).

Deron Williams had many people thinking he was taking a hike to Dallas, but he had a change of heart and decided to sign a 5 year/98 million dollar deal. Williams had a fantastic year last season having a final stat line of 21 points and 9 dimes a game. Williams is a player who knows when he has to be selfish for the team to be successful, he frequently takes the ball to the hoop and draws quite a few fouls. Williams has two reliable backups one in the form of ex-Bull C.J. Watson. Watson put up solid numbers last year in Chicago, scoring 10 points and dishing out 4 times a game. Keep in mind the numbers are inflated due to Derrick Rose's injury last year, but Watson won't do more than spell Williams for 10-15 minutes a game. Tyshawn Taylor was a star in Kansas during their national title run, but he won't get many minutes in Brooklyn. Taylor is a developing prospect who won't see much floor time. 

Joe Johnson went from the quietest star in the NBA to having one of the worst contracts in basketball history at 6 years/119 million and being labeled a bust. That doesn't mean Johnson isn't useful anymore; he's still a bulls eye shooter (39% from outside the arc in 2011-12, 19 points a game) and he also records 4 rebounds and 4 assists per. Johnson will likely be expected to be the Nets go to scorer, and with a point guard like Deron Williams getting him the rock, Johnson could explode this year. His backup, second year player Marshon Brooks, will be the sixth man this year for the Nets. Brooks is a pure scorer, puting up 13 points a game last season as a rookie; you won't get much else out of Marshon aside from points. The Nets brought in Bogans to add some veteran leadership, he will get next to zero minutes.

The Nets thought they were going to lose Gerald Wallace in free agency but managed to snatch him back with a 4 year/40 million $ deal. Wallace is a reliable scorer with 14 points a night, but more importantly he rebounds; last year he grabbed 7 boards per game. Wallace's all around ability will be extremely helpful for Brooklyn these next few years. Behind Wallace, the Nets don't have much, Jerry Stackhouse is too old to be playing in the NBA and Tornike Shengelia won't do much in his first year in the NBA.

The Nets are two guys deep at PF with Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans. Both guys are rebounding machines, but neither will put up a lot of points. Evans is a defensive bruiser down low, and Humphries is also a tower at 6'9. At center the Nets have Brook Lopez, a guy who signed a 4 year/60 million $ deal in July. Lopez will put up close to 20 points a game, but will need to get a lot better at rebounding and defensive for the contract to be justifiable. Mirza Teletovic, the Nets first round pick, is a highly touted big man out of Serbia. Nets fans are optimistic that he has a chance to be big off the bench, I disagree. Teletovic will need his first year to adjust in the NBA. 

The Brooklyn Nets look good on paper, they have a star point guard, two solid wing scorers, and two big guys who can battle down low. The problems that lie with them are that they are an average defensive team, and they don't have a lot of reliable players off the bench (they traded most of them in the Joe Johnson deal. 

When comparing a team like the Nets to the Celtics, I look at the experience factoid. Most of Brooklyn's players have little playoff experience and haven't made it out of the second round of the playoffs. In a seven game series against Boston I would pick the Celtics in 6 games, they're deeper, they have experience and they have a solid core that has been in Boston for the last five years. The battle between Rondo and Williams would be a duel, but in the end Rondo has more guys to pass to then Williams does. The only problem I could see is the height factor of Lopez and Humphries. The C's don't play with a traditional center, KG is the tallest guy on the floor at 6'11 while Lopez and Humprhies are both big bodies. That being said the Nets don't have much behind those two while Boston has Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger. Depth would prevail at the end of the day. 

 The Nets will only get better as the years go by, and if they pick up a few solid bench options in free agency next year they could be right in the NBA title debate, but right now they aren't ready. At this point I would rank Boston, Indy, maybe New York, and Miami ahead of the Nets. I would say you can expect 45-50 wins in Brooklyn this season, with the four or five seed in the east and a second round playoff appearance. Thats as high as I'll go... for now.

Picture Source:


  1. I posted this for you on the Nets blog. No violent reaction from them so far. Good luck.

    By the way, I disagree with your prognosis that NY may be better than the Nets. I think the Nyets will be better than that other dysfunctional NY team. Better roster in my opinion.

    1. Also, I think Humph is only 6'9"

    2. My mistake thanks. And I'm not sure, I think its a toss up. They both have their respective stars, they both have decent coaches. I think it will be interesting to have the rivalry again.

    3. Geez, I'm gettin destroyed on that Nets blog! haha, Alot of haters on that 6'9 Humphries mistake. Someone argued about Lopez has a huge impact on the game, i disagree with that, hes not worth the money and his defense isn't good. Teletovic is a PF not a center, and the Nets are deep, but their lack of dominant bodies behind Hump and Lopez won't get them anywhere. What do you think?

    4. Brook's contract (4/60) is worse than Roy Hibbert's (4/58) in my opinion. I agree with you. Nets offered him too much. At least they acknowledged that they need some interior defense.

      Let them say what they want to say. They're just grumpy fans because nothing good came out of that basketball team since Dr. J was sold to Philly. Besides, they're NY-lite. Kidding.

    5. Nets didn't have a choice with Lopez, just like Indy didn't have a choice with Hibbert. They couldn't extend him last year due to Dwight Howard negotiations. They waited and waited to sign him, due to the Dwight saga, and then Brook got max offers from two other teams. It is what it is. He's a legitimate starting C in the NBA. Those guys cost money.

      I personally think the Brook is poised for a major break out season. 3 years ago he was a 20 ppg scorer, and an 8.7 RPG C. He also played above average, albeit not dominant defense. The only Centers to dominate him were Howard and Bogut, primarily due to Brook being unable to match their strength on the block. They just out muscled him. Then 2 years ago, he caught Mono in the off-season and lost 25lbs. He was already weak, and got even weaker as a result. He played further from the rim as a result, and his RPG number suffered dramatically. So did his D. Then last year, we all know about the foot injuries.

      I think this is the year Lopez breaks out, the way Bynum did last year. The offensive polish is clear. He's spent a lot of time in the gym, and is a lot stronger than he was even a few years ago. I think he becomes a better defender (although I still think he'll struggle on the pick and roll due to his foot speed). I think his rebound numbers top out at about 9 to 9.5 per game. He won't be a great rebounder, but he'll be a consistent presence on the glass. He'll also have much more talent around him, which will help his overall game. I think he ends up around 20-9-4-1.7 as a nightly line, and I think he'll effect shots at the rim like he did 2 years ago. That is a max contract Center, and probably a top 3 C.

    6. I agree with you in that he might get a little better this year, I think he'll put up a line of about 18-7-4-1.2 or something like that. That being said this guy still won't be as good as Hibbert, Bynum, Howard, Bogu and if you're counting PF's who play as centers for their team, won't match with Duncan or Garnett either.

    7. He's good and improving, but not there yet.

    8. Based on what though? He's already scored 20 ppg. He's already grabbed 8.7 rebounds per game. He's already blocked 1.8 per game. You're projecting 18-7-1.2 in those categories. His assists, were never, even close to 4 per game, and that is probably my most extreme assumption, that he'll improve to that.

      Lopez hasn't been 100% for two consecutive seasons. The first of which was due to a viral illness, and hardly counts to an "injury prone" tag. The 2nd, was more worrisome, as he broke his foot TWICE last season.

      But, assuming he is in fact healthy again (he says he's about 90% healed from the injury), and he is in fact stronger now (he says he's pushing a lot more weight than he ever has before), he is likely to at least get back to his 2009-2010 totals. His rebound rate that season was over 18%, and it dropped down to 16%, which is why his per game numbers took such a heavy dip. If Lopez can get back to an 18% rebound rate, he will average nearly 9 per game again, which next to a player like Humphries (18.3%) and Reggie Evans (20.9%) is an extremely proficient front court.

      This does not put him at Bynum levels in any of those categories (18.7% rebound rate, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 BPG), but it does make him above average in those categories. When his offensive skill set is factored in, it puts him at that level.

      Given basketball is a team game, I don't need Lopez to dominate the glass, or the paint. But, I want him to fit a system effectively, and I think his skill set defensively, and on the glass, is grossly understated after two health effected seasons. My opinion on this is based on what he has already done in this league, and a reasonable assessment of the obstacles that have hindered him from continuing to perform at these levels. I'm not sure where you're getting your projections from, and what your thought process is on it.

    9. You can throw all those numbers at me, but my feeling is that he's going to score under 20 a game and get those 7 or 8 boards Im talking about. I think he'll play well for most of the season and progress, but when the going gets tough I expect him to fold when he goes up against the big boys, I think he's soft. He and his brother Robin were both soft coming out of Stanford. He's not an elite rebounder, whether you need him to be or not, and he plays defense when he wants to, which isn't a good thing. I think he'll score well, and maybe make some noise this season, but he is not an elite center, especially given his height. And he broke his foot last season, (twice!) as you said, which means he may yet be injury prone.

      Credit to you though for knowing those numbers, thats some good info.

  2. Off Topic.

    Have you read the Dream Team book by jack McCallum? Just want to get some actual reviews from fans before buying the ebook. I've read editorial reviews and they're mixed. Thanks.

    1. No I haven't but I heard it was pretty good, I would give it a look.

  3. Overall I think this is a fair assessment, but slipping on Humphries height affects your credibility. Also not noting Teletovic in your analysis is a big miss. This is player that will absolutely make an impact. Regarding depth, the Nets have it. I wish they had another back up C worth playing, but I'm glad they didn't sign someone who won't contribute, but will still eat minutes. In mentioning the Nets bench you have to acknowledge their positional flexibility. Avery Johnson thinks Teletovic can play some minutes at Center, and Hump has proven he can with his play last year, with Brook out. I'm not saying I'm comfortable with either of these guys playing extended minutes at the pivot, but I'm comfortable with 10 minutes a game or so from them at the 5. Outside of that, you have to look at the roster as a whole. I think the Nets rotation will look something like this below. Minutes are in parenthesis.

    PG - D-Will (34), Watson (10), Taylor (4)
    SG - Johnson (26), Brooks (15), Dwill (4), Taylor (2), Bogans (2)
    SF - Wallace (32), Johnson (10), Brooks (2), Shengalia (2), Stackhouse (2)
    PF - Hump (30), Teletovic (10), Evans (7), Wallace (2)
    C - Lopez (36), Teletovic (5), Hump (6)

    D-Will is a great off the ball guard in addition to a great PG. He can play with Watson in sets. Taylor is a excellent defender, and at 6-4 can play a combo guard. He'll get minutes at the Point and SG. Joe Johnson is 6'7". He is the back up SF. Brooks is 6'5" with a 7' wingspan. He can add to the SF depth. Wallace can play PF, to allow the Nets other PF's to play the Pivot behind Lopez. The Nets will get time from Tele, Evans, and Hump at the pivot. Hump proved he can play there in spurts last year, with a 20+ PER at the position. That won't hold up for 48 minutes, but it will hold up for a few 4 minute spurts.

    The Nets have a very interesting team. How much of a contender they are remains to be seen, but they'll be very fun to watch, and will be a team to be reckoned with for certain.

    1. The Nets do have an interesting team, but not one that will make a long playoff run. If you look at how the East is shaping up, either Philly or Indy will get the four seed with Brooklyn most likely getting the fifth or sixth. That would set up a battle on enemy ground that wouldn't bode well for the Nets, Hibbert and Bynum would destroy Lopez, not to mention that they both have a slew of young players who could turn into stars.

      My mistake on Hump, I thought he was a 7 footer, in all honesty he plays like it.

      About Teletovic, I don't know, I think he could be a bust, thats why I didn't mention him. I should have mentioned him noting what I thought, I haven't heard much on him, but I know all you Nets fans have raving reviews. It'll take a year for him to adjust to the NBA game.

      The Nets have versatility, but looking at you're minutes analysis I think they will be stretched. They're a good up and coming team, and in a year or two I see them being a force to be reckoned with, but not now.

    2. Again, I don't know what you're basing this opinion on. Covering the NBA is difficult. To be an expert on all of these teams, and all of these players, is no easy task. If you asked me to go into depth on any other team than the Nets, I'd have to spend hours, analyzing advanced statistics, and watching tape of schemes to have any worthwhile opinion.

      But what I do know, is the players on the Nets, because I've already done this homework.

      Stating Lopez will get destroyed by Bynum and Hibbert, doesn't pay attention to how he has performed against these players throughout his career. Two players, mind you, that he's younger than. If you examine their head to head statistics, he has actually out performed both. If you review tape, the gap is not nearly as clear, as Lopez had a much higher usage rate, but he was hardly dominated by either. It also fails to point that the Nets will have advantages at other positions on the floor. The Nets have a starting 5 of D-Will, Johnson, Wallace, Humphries, and Lopez. Compare that to Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Bass, and Garnett, and you're asking two stars not to break down at 36 years old, and 2 players to make a jump they haven't made yet. The Nets core, is on the other hand all in their prime, except for Lopez, who has the ability to make a bigger jump, than the Celtics two fringe starters. I also think the bench depth favors teams like Boston and Indy, but I don't think it's a big edge, as the Nets bench is deep in their own right. If you look at the top 10 rotation, the Nets are competitive on every level.

      Regarding Teletovic, I agree he is an unknown, but saying he will need to "adjust to the NBA game" isn't fair either. There is no educated basis for that kind of assumption. Jared Sullinger will have to adjust to the NBA game. Fab Melo will have to adjust. Why is a player like Teletovic any different, other than having proved himself as a top two Euro? Melo and Sullinger have not proven themselves at that level, and Sullinger slipped in the draft due to legitimate concern over his health given his back issues.

      Yes, Jason Collins and Chris Wilcox are NBA vets, but are Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins the difference? Really?

      Like I said, your assessment is fair. I was just pointing out a few differences of opinion, and trying to add to your assessment, given the lack of detail to the Nets versatility.

      I think this NBA season is going to be the most interesting in a very long time. The Nets can win the East. Would I favor them? No. Could they finish as low as 6th? Absolutely. But, the gap between Boston, Philly, Indiana, and Brooklyn is minimal. I think the playoffs are going to be a battle. All of these teams are going to be in a slug fest.

      I'm not even sure how much of an advantage Miami has, given their playoff struggles against Boston (a team that had them on the ropes). LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. But, the Heat are a very beatable team, and any of the contending Eastern Conference teams can challenge them.

      I think chemistry is going to be big. I like what Brooklyn, Indiana, Boston, and Philly have put together. The Knicks, are the same team to me with a bunch of geezers off the bench. The Heat, added Ray Allen, which is just going to be ill.

      I think the Nets are likely the biggest dark horse team in the East, because we don't know what Brook Lopez, Teletovic, and Marshon Brooks are going to give. The more established vets (D-Will, Joe, and Crash) haven't played together, and their chemistry is a mystery. I won't be surprised if the Nets replace the Bulls and have the best record in the NBA. I also won't be surprised if the stumble around 42 wins, and early playoff exit. I just know that I'm excited, because this NBA season is going to be very fun to watch.

    3. First off, we're fans, this is what we do. We look at our teams and we try to make the best possible scenarios. And we both have completely different opinions because of the fact that we are fans of different teams. You know all about Nets basketball (I'm an outsider, as I have stated) and I know about the Celtics.

      When I compare the C's starting five to the Nets starting five I look at experience; the players in that group of green have a whole bunch of playoff accolades to their name. 3 of them have won a championship. None of the Nets starters have ever played in an NBA finals. In a seven game series I see Garnett abusing Lopez with his defensive tenacity that he still has at the age of 36. I give the edge to Pierce in the battle against Wallace because of how Clutch the truth is, he may not put up 25 or 30 a game anymore, but he can still produce and hit the big shot when the time requires. Rondo and Williams is a toss up, although I would have to give the defensive edge to Rondo, he generates steals and his help defense is fantastic. Avery Bradley has become a stalwart on the defensive end, and if he can slow down Dwayne Wade, I'm not too worried about Joe Johnson. And then you look at Bass and Hump, two hard working guys, I'd give the edge to Hump because of all his double doubles, but Bass isn't far behind.

      With Teletovic playing in Europe and Melo and Sulley playing against guys from the Big Ten and Big East, I might actually say that the two college kids had a harder time there.

      Maybe not Jason Collins, but yes a healthy Jeff Green, a healthy Jared Sullinger and a healthy Chris Wilcox would make the difference.

      And yeah, thanks for commenting I like talking about topics like this. Lets agree to disagree, I'm on outsider on the Nets I just took what I saw and based my opinion on that, I may be wrong, but lets see.

      And I don't think that Miami has that big an advantage anymore. The C's, Nets, Pacers and Sixers all got better, I think someone's going to dethrone them this year...lets see it happen!

  4. Dude, you need to actually watch the team first before sprouting non-sense about them. Clearly you haven't watched a single Nets game in your life.

  5. And thats what this is, this is a point I'm trying to make, I watched the Nets maybe* twice last year, therefore, its an outsiders*** take on the Nets. I'm not an expert on them as you can clearly see, I'm not a fan of them, I'm just analyzing them the way I saw see them. Its my opinion, I think Brook Lopez won't be as good as others think he will be. Neither of us are wrong, we just have to see how the season plays out. If you want cold hard facts and the know how on the Nets read a Nets preview, by a Nets fan on the Nets blog that my friend posted this on.

    1. Looks like I may have exposed you to the wrong crowd. Sorry for all the hate mail. Don't let it stop you though.

    2. Its fine man, thanks for helpin me get all the exposure though, thats good. I'm hoping to finish a Sixers Preview today, hopefully it'll get some more positive reviews than the Nets, haha.

    3. You still planning on posting it at the Philly forum?

    4. Yeah its pretty positive, so I don't think it will upset anyone.