The Nets Are Scorching

Devin Harris on ESPN’s All Breakout Team

That is right a Net made some sort of positive list.  This article comes from John Hollinger, one of the only MSMer (Main Stream Media) that I enjoy reading (the article itself is about a week old, but I just stumbled across it).  Anyway here is what Hollinger said about Harris (via ESPN)

Harris made steady improvement during his time in Dallas, but now that he has the keys to the offense in New Jersey, we could really see him take a step forward. He’ll likely be playing in obscurity for a team going nowhere before sparse crowds, but Harris’ blazing speed going to the basket and his improving outside shot could enable him to break the 20-point barrier this season.

I agree with him about the sparse crowds, but I do believe this team is going somewhere…the playoffs!  The whole article is a real good read, and I recommend that you take the time to read it.

October 29, 2008 Posted by | Around The InterNETS, Player Spotlight, Preseason | Leave a comment

The Rooks Are Ready

Before I get to the post, you guys need to read this.  Gives you everything you need to know (maybe more – Did you know that Yi Jianlian is the son of two pro handball players?) about each and every NJ Net.  All 15 of them.  Real interesting read, and if you have a boring job like I do, it is a great way to kill some time at the office.

Now on to the rookies.  The Nets received high praise for their draft day this year, and what this preseason showed (especially the finale against the Knicks) is that the experts were right (for once – another rant for another day).  Like I said earlier (but now I want to go more in depth), these rookies are ready for competitive minutes.  Let’s take a look at each one a little more in depth.

Brook Lopez

Brook is the best among the rooks (and is deserving of the most minutes), which makes sense since he was drafted the highest.  He is very strong with his back to the basket and has shown he has a ton of low post moves (a great jump hook), and he can also pass out of the low block, which is just as important.  On defense, he is a shot blocking machine…he averaged over 2 blocks per game.  Oh and he can shoot foul shots too!  There is a man-crush developing here.

It is not all positives though, he is a young fella after all…his main problem is not getting good enough position on the block before getting the ball.  This could be solved by a quick pass out and a repost, but Lopez seems to force the issue (a couple times on Friday I saw him taking his jump hooks from just inside the stripe.  Too far away!).  Lopez will get better at this with experience…so I am not too worried, but it may cause some issues the first couple of games.

With all this being said…if he isn’t starting, I am going to be pissed…he’s ready, and he has proved it this preseason!

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson was a spot up shooting type big man in college last year, and after a breakout sophomore season, he decided to enter the draft and the Nets drafted him.  I see him being a role player for his first couple of years, getting in the game to drain the three ball.  Because that is all he can do right now…you saw it on Friday, he looked lost when they closed out on him and forced him to put the ball on the floor.  Even with all this being said, I do see him becoming a Dirk type of player (im talking 5-6 years down the line, so don’t jump down my throat).

This year though, he should get some minutes…a decent amount…whenever the team may need a three or use him in pick-and-pop situations.

Chris Douglas-Roberts

This guy is the hardest to guess his playing time.  Early on during the year, he probably won’t be getting too many minutes…probably only whenever there is foul trouble or injuries…but depending on his play he could see more minutes as the season goes on (which I see happening).  I like CDR because his athleticism and his size gives him the ability to cover multiple positions on defense (He could probably cover the opposing team’s 1-3 players – the 2 or the 3 more realistically).  He has also shown improvement in one of the weakest part of his game, his foul shooting (we all remember the championship game last year).  He shot 88% from the line.

So what does all this rambling mean?  Well, it means that I am likely what I see from these rookies.  Sure not all of them are ready to start this year, but they are all ready to contribute (and when I say contribute, I mean get in there and fill a roll).  That’s a positive…especially when you believe everyone else who says we are rebuilding.  Anyway, we are only one day away from the start of the season!  Well, technically it starts tonight, but it doesn’t matter because it isn’t the Nets!  Look for another post later/tomorrow on why our start is sooooo important this year plus a game preview for Opening Night!

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Man Crush, Player Spotlight, Preseason, Rookies | 3 Comments

Yi Jianlian Key To Nets Success

Yi finally got what he wanted way before he was drafted by the Bucks last year…well, almost what he wanted.  He wanted to play for a big market team, he gets the Nets…sorta in between.  You see, before he even got drafted Yi showed no interest in playing for the Bucks…hell, he didn’t even work out for them.  He pulled that stunt trying to force the Bucks into not drafting him, it didn’t work, but they ended up trading him to the Nets this offseason.

OK, so after that little history lesson, let’s take a close look at this kid, yes he is still a kid (turning 21 October 27th).  First of all, Yi is a freak of nature with a tremendous (yeah, I used the word tremendous) skill set.  His size (7’0″) makes him a matchup nightmare because he isn’t a true center.  He has a silky touch from anywhere on the court free-throw line extended, which gives him the ability to face up in the post.  He is also a beast with his back to the basket.  Now don’t let his stats from last year fool you.  Sure, 8.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG a game aren’t spectacular, but lets look a little bit closer.  First, he only averaged 25.0 Minutes Per Game, a number that he is going to surpass here in Jersey.  Second, let’s look at his point guard…Mo Williams who only averaged 6 assists per game.  That is a decent number, but you got to think that most of those simply came from giving the ball to Michael Redd and letting him bomb away.  Which leads me to my theory about his rebounding numbers…the Bucks, who were usually losing, enjoying shooting the three ball.  Anyone who has ever played basketball knows that the longer the shot, the longer the rebound, which leads to interior players not getting as many.  I expect to see these numbers increase a ton this year.  He is in a situation where he is going to be happy, have a point guard who is more pass oriented, and maybe most importantly, he has a year of experience under his belt.

Now, lets look at what him being on the court means for his teammates.  First and most importantly, whenever a team decides to man-up the Nets with Yi on the court, there will be matchup problems.  With Yi not being a true center, you will usually have smaller players covering him.  That means Power Forwards and Small Forwards have the challenge of trying to stop him, in which case he will have a size advantage, and if a team is crazy enough to have a center and try to man him up, Yi will just pull them away from the basket and hit his jumper or open up the court for the Nets center (hopefully Brook).  The second thing, and I just touched on it, he will open up the court for his teammates.  Let’s say we got Yi on the high post and VC on the wing – same side.  Vince can have a nice little iso, and if Yi’s man (who is closest help defender) doubles or helps, Yi has a nice free throw line extended jumper.  If there is no help, that leaves Vince one-on-one, and he can win that match up more often than not.  Yi’s on court presence can lead to another offensive set.  Let’s say the Nets decide to try and run a pick and roll offense (and they better!).  They could do it with two different players – Vince Carter and Devin Harris.  With Devin, a quick screen at the top of the key will give him enough room to use his speed to get to the lane, which is Devin’s strenth.  After getting beat with that a few times, teams will send a double team or switch off the screen, leaving Yi wide open when he pops for a nice little jumper.  With Vince, a screen on the wing will give him a lane or a jumper, and if teams try to double or switch Yi has his jumper.

With all this being said, Yi really needs to show up this year.  A lot of what I put in the above paragraph is all dependent on Yi being happy and playing well (which I think will happen this year).  When (notice when instead of if) he does have a great year, the Nets can surprise some people.  I am going to save my prediction for later, but can somebody say playoffs?  Now, I am going to let you go with some Yi videos, enjoy:

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Player Spotlight, Yi Jianlian | 6 Comments