I Was Wrong About the Nets

Original article

Back in August, I foolishly predicted the Nets would make the playoffs.  I honestly thought they’d be a very good team that could compete for a lower seed in the playoffs.  I figured adding Avery Johnson was about a five win bonus, a healthy Harris would light the league up, and Derrick Favors was the next superstar.  I was completely wrong, as even Brook Lopez has struggled this season.  Here’s what I had to say:

The Nets are my pick to play the role of the dark horse for this year’s NBA seasons. Many people say the Nets did not improve in the offseason, but that is a complete fallacy. The bottom line is that the Nets didn’t have to acquire a max free agent to get better. Their youth and potential already makes them a better team. Under a new head coach in Avery Johnson, this team could grow into a playoff contender. Acquiring role players such as Travis Outlaw, Troy Murphy, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, and Quinton Ross can’t hurt either. Combine that with a great draft, and you have a real solid offseason.

While the team did get better, they completely struck out in free agency.  The only real good player out of the five I mentioned above is Anthony Morrow.  I also wouldn’t call their draft great, it was average at best.  Favors still has the potential to be a star, but Damion James has yet to contribute because of injuries.

PG: Devin Harris/Jordan Farmar/Ben Uzoh

I got this right, but it was obvious at the time.

SG: Terrence Williams/Anthony Morrow/Quinton Ross

Terrence Williams was traded in an extremely lopsided trade in the Nets’ favor.  Somehow Stephen Graham has been starting, but who the hell knows what is going through Avery Johnson’s mind.

SF: Travis Outlaw/Damion James/Quinton Ross

Would be about right if Damion James was healthy, but Outlaw could move back to the bench sooner than later.

PF: Troy Murphy/Derrick Favors/Kris Humphries/Sean May

May didn’t make the team and Murphy hasn’t played in a long time.  Humphries is now the starter and Favors gets backup minutes.

C: Brook Lopez/Johan Petro/Brian Zoubek

Correct, but Zoubek didn’t make the team.

That certainly is not a bad squad. Make no mistake about it, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are young stars. Lopez may be the most coveted young center in the league. If Derrick Favors can develop into the next Chris Bosh, the Nets will have a tantalizing front court duo. For now, Troy Murphy will do.

The squad is pretty bad and Troy Murphy has been a disaster.

But what about the corner positions? I truly believe Terrence Williams is ready to start opening night and contribute. Williams has the potential to be a really special player in the NBA. If he can build on his second half from last season, he should be exciting to watch. And to back him up, Anthony Morrow may be the NBA’s greatest three-point shooter of all-time. Yes, you heard me right. After nine more attempts, Morrow will qualify to lead the league in all-time three-point percentage.

Terrence Williams found himself in the D-League at one point.  Morrow is turning out to be a solid player,  however.

Small forward is a bit of concern, but Travis Outlaw is still a solid player. I was a huge critic of the deal he received, but there is no doubt that this kid can ball. He takes too many stupid three-pointers, but hopefully he becomes a smarter player under Avery Johnson. Talking to a few Clippers fans, I have heard that Outlaw takes ridiculous fadeaway three-pointers that will make you shut off the game. Hopefully they are just over exaggerating.

Outlaw is anything but solid, the Clipper fans were dead on.

What will be the biggest difference between the 2009-2010 and the 2010-2011 Nets? Leadership. Avery Johnson is a real head coach. He will give the Nets something to fight for every night. I truly can see Brook Lopez and Devin Harris stepping up as locker room leaders as well. For a young team, leadership and chemistry are important issues. I believe this team will have both.

Pretty much every Net fan hates Johnson right now.  That could change if the team gets better, but who knows when that will be.

Melo Trade Talks Heating Up

D.J. Augustine has now been removed from trade talks, leaving the Nets without a point guard if they proposed Carmelo Anthony deal goes through.  However, Nuggets guard Arron Affalo has been added to the trade talks.  Affalo would give the Nets depth at shooting guard, and would allow Terrence Williams to spend more minutes at point guard if needed. 

We don’t know at this point what is holding up the deal.  The Nuggets could want more, the Nets could want another player back, or Carmelo could still be having doubts about joining the Nets.  Whatever the case is, all sides hope to finish the deal by Monday. 

If you are a Nets fan, you have to be optimistic right now.  You are potentially one day away from adding a top-five NBA player who would be the face of the franchise heading into Brooklyn.  Not only that, Melo would attract other free agents to come here.  It’s way too early to talk about this, but the Nets would have cap room in 2012 to go after Chris Paul.  A Paul/Melo/Lopez core is something you can build a championship out of.

Carmelo Brooklyn Bound?

Nets Now Frontrunners for Carmelo

Once again, Real GM and ESPN are claiming they have sources that know all things involving Carmelo Anthony.  Late last night, ESPN reported that the Nuggets are listening to trade offers from multiple teams.  The favorites?  The Nets.  Who would have guessed?

I think it is safe to rule the Bulls out at this point.  The Nuggets won’t want to take on Luol Deng’s contract.  The Nets and Knicks are both very good possibilities, but I personally can’t see a deal getting done until February.  The Nuggets won’t lower their demands, and I don’t see them giving  in until the trade deadline. 

While Carmelo wouldn’t make the Knicks or Nets immediate contenders, he would be a real solid piece going forward.  Before either team pulls the trigger on a trade, they have to be confident that Melo will sign a long-term extension.  You can’t give up a whole lot for him and then see him leave next offseason. 

Let’s look at each team’s lineup with Carmelo added in.  Obviously, each team would have to give up pieces to trade for him.  Let’s say the Nets give up T-Will and Favors, while the Knicks give up Gallinari and Chandler.

Nets
Harris
Morrow
Anthony
Murphy
Lopez

Knicks
Felton
Azubuike
Anthony
Stoudemire
Turiaf

That’s certainly not a bad lineup for either team.

UPDATE: NBC Sports is now reporting that the Nets are in the drivers seat for Carmelo.

Will the Knicks and Nets be Offensive or Defensive Teams?

Offensive and defensive bias are keys to understanding basketball’s advanced statistics.  A player with a more positive bias has a better offensive game.  A player with a more negative bias has a better defensive game.  It’s a simple concept to see what type of player someone is.  For more on this topic, click here.

All stats are for the 2009-2010 season.

Knicks
Kelenna Azubuike: 2.3
Wilson Chandler: -0.2
Eddy Curry: -7.0
Toney Douglas: 3.1
Raymond Felton: 0.2
Danillo Gallinari: 3.2
Roger Mason: -1.7
Anthony Randolph: -1.7
Amar’e Stoudemire: 3.2
Ronny Turiaf: -2.9
Bill Walker: 1.6

Total Bias: 0.1

Now I know people expected a much higher bias for the Knicks towards offense, but look at the numbers closely.  If you take out Eddy Curry, the team bias is suddenly 7.1.  Since Curry isn’t really part of the team, it is very fair to say the Knicks are much more of an offensive team than defensive.

Nets
Jordan Farmar: -0.8
Devin Harris: 3.1
Kris Humphries: -2.6
Brook Lopez: 2.1
Sean May: -2.5
Anthony Morrow: 1.0
Troy Murphy: -0.5
Travis Outlaw: -2.2
Johan Petro: -1.9
Quinton Ross: -3.4
Terrence Williams: -2.1

Total Bias: -9.8

The Nets are clearly a defensive team, which is a good thing.  For a young team looking to put together wins, defense is a great tool to implement.  I’m looking forward to seeing if this team can click this season.

Nets Leading Candidate For Carmelo?

Yahoo Sports is reporting that Carmelo Anthony has demanded a trade.  According to the article, the Los Angeles Clippers and the New Jersey Nets are the frontrunners to acquire Melo.  This is encouraging news for Nets fans, but it is also important to take every NBA rumor with a grain of salt.  Last time we believed a rumor, Lebron James was going to the Knicks and Dwayne Wade was going to the Bulls.

The Nets make almost too much sense for Carmelo.  In 2012, the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, Melo’s hometown.  That is a huge selling point for them.  Even if they trade away a few pieces, they would still be a great team.  Let’s look at the team if they were to trade Derrick Favors and a few draft picks for Anthony.  You would have to throw in other pieces to make the salaries match, but for now let’s just say the Nets make a package around Favors.

PG: Devin Harris
SG: Terrence Williams
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Troy Murphy
C: Brook Lopez

Plus you’d have a great bench.  That would be an extremely fun team to watch.  Let’s wait and see what happens.

Bold Prediction: The Nets Will Be a Playoff Basketball Team

The Nets are my pick to play the role of the dark horse for this year’s NBA season.  Many people say the Nets did not improve in the offseason, but that is a complete fallacy.  The bottom line is that the Nets didn’t have to acquire a max free agent to get better.  Their youth and potential already makes them a better team.  Under a new head coach in Avery Johnson, this team could grow into a playoff contender.  Acquiring role players such as Travis Outlaw, Troy Murphy, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, and Quinton Ross can’t hurt either.  Combine that with a great draft, and you have a real solid offseason.

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

That certainly is not a bad squad. Make no mistake about it, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are young stars. Lopez may be the most coveted young center in the league. If Derrick Favors can develop into the next Chris Bosh, the Nets will have a tantalizing front court duo. For now, Troy Murphy will do.

But what about the corner positions? I truly believe Terrence Williams is ready to start opening night and contribute. Williams has the potential to be a really special player in the NBA. If he can build on his second half from last season, he should be exciting to watch. And to back him up, Anthony Morrow may be the NBA’s greatest three-point shooter of all-time. Yes, you heard me right. After nine more attempts, Morrow will qualify to lead the league in all-time three-point percentage.

Small forward is a bit of concern, but Travis Outlaw is still a solid player. I was a huge critic of the deal he received, but there is no doubt that this kid can ball. He takes too many stupid three-pointers, but hopefully he becomes a smarter player under Avery Johnson. Talking to a few Clippers fans, I have heard that Outlaw takes ridiculous fadeaway three-pointers that will make you shut off the game. Hopefully they are just over exaggerating.

What will be the biggest difference between the 2009-2010 and the 2010-2011 Nets? Leadership. Avery Johnson is a real head coach. He will give the Nets something to fight for every night. I truly can see Brook Lopez and Devin Harris stepping up as locker room leaders as well. For a young team, leadership and chemistry are important issues. I believe this team will have both.

A Look at the Nets’ Depth Chart

With Courtney Lee gone and Troy Murphy in, it is time to look at how the Nets’ roster shapes up.  I am assuming that Derrick Favors will not start opening night. It would probably be smart of the Nets to slowly work him into the rotation. There is no reason to rush his progression.

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

That’s a very balanced team that has a chance to compete for a playoff spot.  There is no reason this team can’t do some damage this season.  The Nets have a young core surrounded by quality role players.  The potential for this team is unlimited, but the question is if the younger players can live up to their potential. 

The Nets now have a new owner, a new coach, a new arena, and a completely different roster.  The new Nets are here.  It should be a fun season.