Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011-2012 NBA Preview #13: New Jersey Nets

UPDATE!: Brook Lopez just went down with a broken bone in his foot and is out 4+ weeks. With this news, I would absolutely move New Jersey down to at least #11 in the East... not that you care, moving right along...

Aloha... this is an interesting situation...

Roster Breakdown (Starters in Bold)
  • PG - Deron Williams, Jordan Farmar, Sundiata Gaines
  • SG - Anthony Morrow, Marshon Brooks
  • SF - Shawne Williams, Damion James, Ime Udoka, Stephen Graham
  • PF - Kris Humphries, Johan Petro
  • C - Brook Lopez, Shelden Williams, Jordan Williams

General Thoughts

The fact that I have them this high is the ultimate respect to Deron Williams. I believe he's still a top-3 PG (with Paul and Rose), he's durable, and invested enough where a 20 ppg, 10 apg type of stat-line is in play here. They've surrounded him on the perimeter with Morrow and Williams, both are shoot-first guys with big-time range (especially Morrow), but don't provide much else. It's certainly a weak spot, but I actually like Damion James, so if they get 40% 3-point shooting from both Morrow and Williams, that's not awful. The re-signing of Humphries this week was a huge coup for them simply because if he had walked, I'm not entirely sure how they would've coped with that after losing out (so far) on Dwight Howard, etc. Johan Petro has been an unmitigated disaster since signing that big deal after leaving Seattle, but in a 3rd/4th big role, it's not a total loss. Brook Lopez is a guy I've always liked, but he took a giant step back in 2010-11 when he averaged just 6 rebounds a game in 35 minutes. That is remarkably bad, and while he'll never be a great rebounder, I'll chalk a bit of that up to Humphries stealing some (averaging 10+) and will guess we'd see a movement back toward his career average of 7.4 boards per. The starting five is a nice unit because of the anchors at the 1 and 5, but the depth leaves a lot to be desired.


Lopez. I honestly feel like you know what you're getting from Deron, and the wing guys, while average, aren't particularly polarizing. Humphries will average 10 and 10, so there is really one X-factor that I see. As recently as a year ago, Brook Lopez was being talked about in the "2nd best center" conversation with Bynum, Horford, etc., and last year that all changed. If he can throw up a 21 point, 8 rebound a game season? That's huge for them. If I was picked a 2nd X-factor, I'd have to go with the looming Dwight Howard situation. He's currently off the market (publicly), but with his voiced interest in going to Brooklyn, and the Nets having the Lopez chip to offer, I don't think this is going away, and could form a giant distraction. In addition, the Nets reportedly have a deal in the works with Andrei Kirilenko, and while I'm not sure that's a great long-term move for them if it's a multi-year deal, it undeniably makes them better this year and could vault them into the playoffs, so keep an eye out.

Predicted Finish

9th in the East

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