Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Intriguing Nets

When Mikhail Prokorov bought the Nets, there was hope that the team would make a big splash in free agency. That didn't happen, but the Nets have almost completely turned over their roster after last season's 12-70 debacle, and they added another piece in this week's four team trade.

Last year, the Nets top ten players, in terms of minutes, were Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Trenton Hassell, Josh Boone, Jarvis Hayes, and Keyon Dooling.

This year, that list will probably be something like; Brook Lopez, Troy Murphy, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Terrence Williams, Jordan Farmar, Derrick Favors, Kris Humphries, and Quintin Ross.

That means that the Nets have effectively traded Lee, CDR, Yi, Hassell, Boone, Hayes, and Dooling for Murphy, Morrow, Outlaw, Farmar, Favors, Humphries, and Ross. Just upgrading all of that replacement level talent would be enough to catapult the Nets out of the East cellar, but what intrigues me is how this talent fits together, especially on the offensive end.

Now, this team will struggle defensively, although Lopez and Williams certainly have the potential to become very good defensive players. However, this team has the following offensive assets. 1) A skilled 7 footer that can control the paint (and averaged 19 PPG on efficient shooting as a 21 year old sophomore). 2) A point guard that can get into the lane at will, and draws a lot of fouls. 3) One of the best stretch fours in the league. 4) The best pure shooter in the NBA. Add to that another forward who can hit the three (Outlaw), a guy who should be deadly in transition (Williams), a decent backup point guard (Farmar), and whatever Favors turns out to be, and the Nets have the makings of a good offensive team.

Aside from replacing the offensive "contributions" of the departing Nets, the newcomers (Murphy and Morrow especially) should open up the offense considerably for Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. New Jersey finished 29th in 3 point percentage last year, and the appearance of a dangerous perimeter game should mean fewer double teams for Brook Lopez (especially with the opponent's power forward needing to chase Troy Murphy around the perimeter), open up more lanes to the basket for Devin Harris and Terrence Williams, and give the Nets a deadly drive and kick game.

It is difficult to make the case that the Nets will be anything more than a 35 win team that could sneak into the last playoff spot in a top heavy East, but their newfound offensive firepower could transform New Jersey, the worst offensive team in the league last year, into an entertaining team, and make them a more attractive destination for next year's star free agents (barring a lockout, of course).

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