Monday, March 09, 2015

Brooklyn Nets: Fading Away

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Now 11-games under .500, and fading fast...

BROOKLYN NETS: Look what the Utah Jazz did to Flatbush, again.

Let us tell no lies.

The 2011 trade bringing (then) 26-year old point guard Deron Williams to the Nets was a no-brainer. Negotiated under the cover of night, the transaction even stole headlines away from the Knicks upon their acquisition of Carmelo Anthony.

Despite being limited to just 55 games in 2011-12, Deron Williams' 21-ppg was his best rate as a pro, which continued ratifying the trade as a coup.

Then came the team's relocation to Brooklyn.

Beset by ankle problems throughout, Williams averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 assists in 2012-13, then fell precipitously to just 14.3 points and 6.1 assists per game last season.

Now 30-years old, Deron Williams underwent surgery to both ankles this past off-season and was off to a spirited start this season.  However, he has since been relegated to playing off the bench by Coach Hollins, and is presently only averaging 13.2 points and 6.2 assists per game.

His former team, the Utah Jazz were in Brooklyn Sunday featuring forward Derrick Favors - one of the players packaged in exchange for Williams.

Favors, 23, played a game high 38-minutes and shot 50% on 8/16 from the floor.  He was second on the Jazz with 22 points and 8 boards.  Deron Williams on the other hand, played 30 minutes and was only 2/5 from the floor.  He registered 6 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds.

The Jazz 95-88 victory over the Nets Sunday improved their record to 26-36, while the defeat dropped the Nets to 25-36 this season.  At first glance, the teams look relatively even.  The observant fan, however, knows otherwise.  While the Jazz are 10 games under .500, they are young, rebuilding and improving.  The Nets, however, are now 11 games under .500, and devolving at a accelerating rate.

The New Year turnaround experienced under both P.J. Carlessimo and Jason Kidd has failed to transpire under Lionel Hollins.  Despite impressive back-to-back victories over Golden State and Dallas, and additionally strong victories over Toronto, L.A. Clippers, and Washington, the Nets have posted a 10-20 in 2015.

They have now dropped 3 in a row, and are now 11-18 at home.  They've fallen into a second place tie in the Atlantic Division with (another rebuilding team) the Boston Celtics.  They're additionally 2.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers in the race for the Eastern Conference 8th seed along with Boston, both of whom trail Miami.

Even Jason Kidd's team, the Milwaukee Bucks, widely considered a pre-season afterthought, are presently the 6th team in the conference with a (surprising) 33-29 record.

Brook Lopez was finally reinserted back into the starting line-up on Sunday, and responded with 19 points and 10 rebounds.  It was his second straight double/double, as he scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds against the Suns.

While Brook was back in, Joe Johnson was strangely out.  In a very peculiar move, Coach Hollins had Joe Johnson on the bench and put the ball in Jarrett Jack's hands for the final, and potentially game winning shot in regulation time against Phoenix.  Jack's shot rimmed out, and the Nets eventually fell apart in overtime.

Joe Johnson is playing out of position and his game is suffering as a result.  That being said, Lionel Hollins has truly been a brutal presence for Brooklyn's envisioned big three; Johnson, Williams, Lopez.

Obviously, the problems confronting this organization lay above Hollins.  This team was constructed to win in the very near term, but will clearly fail in their five year mission to win a title.  Instead they are fading away, and other than negotiating a sale of the team, the deep pocketed owner now appears indifferent to affecting change.

Translated - Billy King continues unfettered in his present capacity.

That's sad, because all indications say he engineered a bottom third club with little chance of improving.  The Nets are 23rd in scoring, 22nd in rebounds, 27th in assists, and 18th in points allowed.

Yet, Billy King stayed relatively put at the deadline (or arguably got outclassed by his competitors), so it's no surprise the situation continues to worsen.

If that wasn't enough, by negotiating the team's draft picks he's effectively compromised the near future as well.

That puts the real Nets turnaround light years from now.


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