2009/10 Review:

Even before the season got started, the New Jersey Nets were already appointed as the worst team in the league. The oddmakers had them listed to win just 27/28 games but how bad it would turn to be?

Here is their monthly record last season:

November 0-17
December 3-12
January 1-13
February 2-11
March 4-12
April 2-5

Yes, they really started the season by losing 18 consecutive games and went to the all star break with the brutally dismal record of 4 wins and 48 LOSSES!

Excluding Brook Lopez, everything else was just plain and simple horrible! Head Coach Lawrence Frank couldn’t win a single game and then Del Harris didn’t make any difference at all. When you have a pretty bad and unbalanced roster and your best players (again Brook Lopez apart) struggle to remain healthy, then you are in trouble in a professional league and the Nets had to pay the price for that.

They were by far the worst offensive team in the league with the month of November being (I would say) a historical awful month in which the Nets averaged 83 points per game!

The Nets were a young team with some potential, but they couldn’t develop at all as their mental toughness was completely ruined apart early on the season with the historical losing streak to open the season.

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace 25th 94.1
Offense 30th 98.3
Defense 25th 108.0
Rebounds 27th -4.30

 


2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar,    Ben Uzoh
SG: Terrence Williams, Anthony Morrow
SF: Travis Outlaw, Stephen Graham, Quinton Ross, Damion James
PF: Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors, Kris Humphries
C: Brook Lopez, Joe Smith, Johan Petro, Brian Zoubek

As bad as the Nets were last season and “bad” is actually a kind word, the Nets have a bright future in front of him if correctly managed.

They will move to a brand new arena in Brooklyn in the future; they have a new owner who by the way is a billionaire and he isn’t afraid to spend some money in order to improve the team and they also have a young “big man” to build a franchise: a rarity in these days in the NBA!

Last season the Nets failed to succeed in every single aspect of the game. Not only they didn’t have the talent and the proper level to hang around against other teams in the league, but also mentally, as it looked like they gave up pretty quickly in the games.

To fight against such mental weaknesses the Nets hired the best possible coach available in the market: “The Little General” Avery Johnson.

I am pretty sure that Avery Johnson won’t be able to keep up his current 73.5% winning record as a head coach in the NBA, but we can be assure that the Nets won’t be lethargic on the court like they were last season.

The Nets needed to make some changes and so, in this offseason they made several moves: they drafted big young player Derrick Favors with the 3rd overall pick; they traded for PF Troy Smith and they added in the free agency period Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and some others veterans to improve in the present. Also they were reportedly interested in Carmelo Anthony, but it looks like the potential trade has cooled off…for now.

Brook Lopez is right now one of the league’s most effective centers. Last season he averaged 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and he’s only 22 years old. He is part integral of the Nets plans for the present and future, but will he really develop into a true star in this league? The Nets need badly a leader; a go-to player and they hope Lopez can be that guy. Being merely good isn’t enough because players like David Lee, Andrew Bogut or Andrea Bargnani are good players, but they can’t be tagged as franchise players like Lopez is looking forward to be. In many ways this is a key year for Lopez as he need to step up and lead the team on and off the court or else the Nets will be looking for other option to build around the franchise.

Devin Harris was probably the player that has most disappointed last season. Without Vince Carter, Harris would have to carry his team and be a true floor general… he failed the mission! I remember that just a couple of seasons ago, he went to the All Star weekend, so the Nets were pretty high on him. However his numbers and overall play decreased in every single way: points (16.9), field goal percentage (40.3%), assists, rebounds (3.2) and even steals per game (1.20). His defense wasn’t good enough and down the stretch he failed to make the best decisions. Bottom line, it was a season to forget and Harris need badly to bounce back this season. The good news is that he will be coach by a coach that already knows him from his days in Dallas, so Harris has some advantage early on the season.

For the Shooting Guard position the Nets have two young players to share minutes in Terrence Williams and Anthony Morrow.

Williams had a very rocky rookie season last season with a lot of ups and downs. Like the team, he started horrible the season by shooting just 35% from the field in the first two months of competition. In a team that lacked confidence he was lost in the court and his behavior off the court wasn’t the best by complaining via twitter the organization. He was dogged after such comments and received more chances to play only late in the season. However he responded well and closed out the season averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game! Also in this Summer League, he was terrific and we are dealing with a pretty confident young player coming for this season, something he wasn’t last season. On the other side, Morrow will be the sharpshooter of this team. He has an unbelievable accuracy from the long range, but he needs to develop in others areas. By playing in Golden State for Don Nelson didn’t help him to improve his defense, but now playing for Avery Johnson, he will certainly will or he won’t play.

The “biggest” free agent player that the Nets were able to sign in this offseason was… Travis Outlaw, who will be starter at Small Forward by almost default for a role that he really never had the chance to play. He already has played in 400 games during his career and started in just 32 of them, so being the premium starter in a team will be something new for him. The Nets offered him a five-year deal at $7 million per year, is he good enough to earn such paycheck?

The Nets drafted Derrick Favors with the third overall pick, but they didn’t want him to be forced to play major minutes in his rookie season and so they traded for Power Forward Troy Smith. Smith is entering his final year of the contract (huge contract by the way), but the fact is that he has been a pretty good consistent player in the last years. He has been labeled as being a soft player, but then how you explain his terrific rebounding numbers (double digit numbers in the last 2 years)?

The combination Lopez and Smith has the potential to work pretty well because Smith is a pretty good long range shooter despite his size – his career 40% three-point shooting says it all about him and with Lopez working down low the post, Smith will be able to torch the opponents from the outside. In my opinion the Nets have an underrated frontcourt for this season, as if they can find the proper chemistry, they will be just fine.

To complete the team, the Nets added some more free agents to the roster. Point Guard Jordan Farmar will have the chance to play more minutes than in his days with the Lakers and they have also added some veteran players to give more depth in the frontcourt in Joe Smith, Johan Petro and Stephen Graham.

We just can’t expect the Nets to be in the playoff conversation this season, instead the word “development” is way more important for them. Head Coach Avery Johnson will assure that his team will work hard every night and if their young guns grow fast then they can pull some upsets during the season.