BROOKLYN NETS: Know Your Team - #5
2012 - 2013
Regular Season Preview:
Finally, after many years of delay, Brooklyn's First, is only days away. With their pre-season schedule complete, the next time we see Kings County's new cagers will be Thursday evening when they inaugurate the 2012-2013 NBA regular season, and play in the Borough's first major sporting match in fifty five years.
Game One will be against the New York Knickerbockers, and will be played inside the Nets new arena at Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. Barclays Center is home now. In five more days, the clock starts ticking on the Brooklyn Nets basketball club. Once they tip-off, the rest as they say will be history.
The new home town cheer is set. The anthem of the fans will be...
Brooook - Lyn!
These aren't necessarily the Nets everyone is used to. These aren't even the Nets of the 2011-2012 season. Gone from the Nets who played last season in New Jersey, and didn't make it to Brooklyn are Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, Jordan Farmar, Sundiata Gaines, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, Sheldon Williams, and DeShawn Stevenson along with a few others.
The Nets currently have seventeen players on the roster, and will have to slim down to fifteen by Thursday's opener. Six players are returning from last season and six players are new veteran faces. The Nets also currently sport five rookies in camp. A sixth rookie, Stephen Dennis, was cut earlier in the week. Word is free agent rookies James Mays and Carleton Scott may be next. That would effectively get the Nets down to fifteen. Remaining rookies, Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovis, Tornike Shengelia stand to make the team.
With his rookie season, New Jersey, and the winds of trade behind him, MarShon Brooks returns for a second campaign. The twenty three year old guard/forward averaged twelve points per game last season. In his senior year at Providence, MarShon averaged twenty four points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game. The youngster will prove valuable off the bench. Despite only five games played with the Nets last season, ninth year guard/forward Keith Bogans will also return to bolster the bench.
In March of 2012, the Nets traded Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a #1 draft pick in exchange for Portland's Gerald Wallace. The 25th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Wallace will not turn thirty one years old until July. General Manager Billy King signed him to a four year pact which keeps Wallace in Brooklyn through the 2015-2016 season. The Nets may rue that fourth season, but over the short term, the acquisition seems savvy.
Gerald Wallace has a chance to score his 10,000th point as a pro this upcoming season. Last year with Portland, he was in the middle of posting his lowest points per game average since the 2004-2005 season. In 2005-2006 he averaged 15.2 points ppg, then averaged 16.8 points for the next seven years. His best season came at age twenty five with Charlotte, when he averaged nineteen points per. At the time of last season's trade, Gerald Wallace had dropped to a suspect thirteen points per. In sixteen games with the Nets after the trade, Gerald Wallace rebounded and averaged fifteen points in his usual thirty five minutes a night.
Kris Humphries returns to the Nets for his fourth season. He signed a lucrative, albeit two year deal to stay and play in Brooklyn. Entering his fifth season, Brook Lopez also returns after signing a brand new four year max deal. And I say welcome back. Ever since the Dwight Howard dramatics began, I've long maintained the Nets would be better off with Lopez and Humphries, than with one Dwight Howard. The Magic center handled himself with indecision and engaged in double-speak during Orlando's ongoing deliberations to trade, or not trade him. Perception wise, the episode may have been insight into why Howard may not be the best fit to play in Kings County. And when you consider his history with injuries, if he goes down, there goes your primary source of both rebounds and points. With Humphries and Lopez, the threat of losing both points and boards are separated, and minimized.
Kris Humphries is a proven rebounder, and Brook Lopez is a proven twenty point scorer. Before Brook Lopez got injured, he averaged twenty points per game during the 2010-2011 regular season, and eighteen points the season before that. He'll turn twenty five years old next April and seems to be suffering no ill effects of his foot injury. Standing seven feet tall, weighing 260lbs, and with a few years under his belt now, the Nets want and need Lopez to improve on his career 7.5 rebounds per game.
That's where Kris Humphries comes in. Since Kris Humphries became a starter with the Nets (or was, his role with Gerald Wallace around is still to be decided upon by Coach Avery), he has become a double-double man the last two seasons running. He has averaged 11.9 points, and 10.7 rebounds per game. With Deron Williams on the floor, high double-double nights occurred more frequently. With Williams, Kris enjoyed an overall career year last season. Brook Lopez still hasn't realized the full benefit of playing with Deron Williams. But he will. In addition to the on-court effects Humphries and Lopez will have, both their contracts are relatively short term, and won't hamper the franchise nearly as adversely as a deal for Howard would have. And that is why Dwight Howard is free to play elsewhere as far as I am concerned.
Hello Joe Johnson. He comprises part 1A of the already much hyped Brooklyn Backcourt. The thirty one year old guard cost the Nets a hefty sum in players, draft picks, and cash. Joe has four years remaining on a six year max deal he signed while in Atlanta. In addition to surrendering a 2013 #1 draft pick, and a 2017 #2 pick, the list of players sent to the Hawks is long. Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, and Johan Petro all were traded to Atlanta. Why? Because Brooklyn now has one of the most formidable back courts in the League. Entering his twelfth NBA season, Joe Johnson has been a scoring stud on pedestrian Atlanta teams. Spanning five years from 2005 through 2010, Joe maintained a 21.9 points per game average. He averaged 18.5 ppg over the last two seasons prior to the trade.
....This is my house. - Deron Williams.
It certainly is. And it wouldn't have been the same without him. Thanks for staying Deron. And thank you Mark Cuban for dropping the ball. Brooklyn showed more of a want for Deron's services than the Mavericks did. Despite reports, I wonder if the star guard would have really left, considering all Billy King's maneuverings right up to the day Deron Williams sat in the press room on signing day and politely spoke, "Hello Brooklyn."
Had the Knicks known Deron Williams was available, they probably would have never traded for Carmelo Anthony. After majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov effectively ended the Nets pursuit of Denver's forward, to the great delight of a dejected fan base, the Nets pried Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz under the cover of night. On a February morning in 2011, locals woke up to news the Nets acquired the star point guard in exchange for a package including Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two #1 draft picks, and cash.
After one and a half seasons playing in New Jersey and losing a preponderance of their games, Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to a five year deal in July of this year. Biding his time before being able to opt out of his previous pact and declare himself a free agent was no easy endeavour. At times, the team's consistent losing outwardly wore on Williams. However, he always maintained the high road, and always insisted the Nets were in the running. I do not believe he was ever misleading regarding his intentions. He came here and was quite the leader and ever the professional despite rumors which followed him out of Utah insinuating Deron may have forced Jerry Sloan's firing. But the Nets effectively gambled the future of the franchise on Williams anyway. Today, the franchise stands to benefit immensely for having him.
Deron's assists were down because with Brook Lopez out, he turned into the Nets primary scoring option. But with Billy King's roster overhaul, that changes significantly this season. In any given moment of any given game, with Williams, Lopez, Johnson, and Wallace, the Nets will have a legitimate scorer on the floor. Gerald Wallace is averaging 13.5ppg over his career. The other three have averaged over seventeen ppg over their careers.
MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans will join forces with Andray Blatche off the bench. Given the amnesty treatment by the Washington Wizards, Blatche, the upstate New York native has apparently found a home in Brooklyn. He put together a fine string of pre-season games. Over a seven year career, he is a nine point, five rebound forward who doesn't shoot free throws very well.
Guard/forward Josh Childress, who averaged eleven points per game and pulled down the occasional rebound while playing with Joe Johnson in Atlanta, will also come off Coach Avery's bench. He spent two inconsequential seasons with the Suns before arriving in Brooklyn. Despite being a career role player, the Nets are banking the Childress from his Atlanta years re-emerges.
Tenth year Reggie Evans is here to spell the forwards. C.J. Watson comes to the Nets via Golden State and Chicago. He is a twenty eight year old guard who has shown a knack for scoring in limited minutes. And last, but certainly not least, age has its privilege. The thirty seven year old, seventeen year NBA veteran, Jerry Stackhouse joins the Nets.
As the new Nets gain familiarity with each other, overall team scoring should be more than adequate. There are little worries in that regard. Based on their pre-season performance however, the team left me with a few matters to ponder.
Defensively, the team played no where near Coach Johnson's standards. Despite a 3-2 record in five pre-season games, the Nets allowed more points than they scored. They allowed over one hundred points three times.
Secondly, the Nets stand to get out-rebounded. How often remains to be seen. Kris Humphries is obviously the team's best rebounder. I'm looking for even more improvement in his overall game. But as stated previously, Brook Lopez is being counted on to do more, which invariably means getting more physical underneath. He is historically good for seven boards a night. He now needs to make the jump and join Kris Humphries in double digits this season. Gerald Wallace is known to be good for five or six rebounds per game. And off the bench, Andray Blatche will be asked to pull down his customary six boards. After that, the Nets will be lacking.
Billy King deserves credit for assembling a quality team in such short order. Not too long ago, the Nets situation wasn't looking too promising. He initially caught a lot of heat for trading away so much young talent. He also dispersed a cache of first round draft picks around the league, and effectively maxed out the salary cap. I do not hear too many people complaining now though. Instead, many believe Billy King has put together an Eastern Conference contender for Brooklyn's inaugural season.
Lastly, I will simply say, I believe the Nets have the right coach as well. Avery Johnson is alright by me.
PREVIOUS SERIES: BARCLAYS CENTER GRAND OPENING;
THIRTY PICTURES IN THIRTY DAYS
#24 - Barclays Center - Untitled, Just Because
#22 - Year One A.G. - After Groundbreaking
#20 - Barclays Center - Where's the Doorbell?
#18 - NETS UNVEIL NEW FLOOR PATTERN
#16 - Last Call For Some, Is Not Last Call For Others
#14 - A Sign Of Things to Come
#12 - Next Stop, Barclays Center. Watch For The Closing Doors
#10 - Barclays Center - Brrrrr!
RIBBON CUTTING DAY ~ BARCLAYS CENTER SNEAK PEEK
#5 - Barclays Center - Who Needs Tickets?
#3 - All Trains Lead To Brooklyn