2008-2009 New Jersey Nets Season Preview
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The New Jersey Nets (34- 48) no longer have Jason Kidd, Jason Collins nor Richard Jefferson. They traded away Kidd and Collins last season and Jefferson in the summer. 2007-2008 was an interesting season for this team. Most pundits saw the Nets as being the top team in a very weak Atlantic Division. Of course, everyone was wrong. Although the Nets garnered a winning 18-17 as they neared the midseason, it became clear that there was little gas left in the Nets’ tank as they headed into the second half. Thus, the focus was no longer on making it into the 2007-2008 playoffs; rather, it was about getting rid of the past and embracing the future. “Rebuilding” became the operative word for the Nets. Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright all went to Dallas for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop and first-round picks in 2008 and 2010 plus $3 million.
The Net offense was generated by guards Vince Carter and Devin Harris who then had nine and three years respectively in the NBA. Together, they averaged almost 44 PPG. However, neither was adept at defense. Without Kidd on board, the team’s “D” suffered greatly. One problem was that they were aggressive but unskilled on defense, which meant that they fouled too often. The other dilemma for this team was that except for Josh Boone at center, the Net players did not play to win. The skinny for this team—they lacked good one-on-one players.
Small forward Richard Jefferson and his 22.6 PPG are both gone. Second year center Yi Jianlian is on board and rookie center Brook Lopez is also on the team. Both are seven-foot-even. Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, taken in round two, could offer a steady flow of points.
The frontcourt is looking towards the future. Jianlian, Lopez and Ryan Anderson are the future of this team’s inside game. Jianlian is the only one with NBA experience, averaging 8.6 PPG and 5.2 RPG over the course of 66 games while playing an average of 25 MPG. The roster shows various vets who will help with the transition. Bobby Simmons, Jarvis Haynes and Eduardo Najera will provide veteran minutes—together they average seven years in the NBA. Center Josh Boone, who starts his third NBA season, hit 55% of his shots last season, averaging 8.2 PPG and 7.3 RPG. As far as the future goes, the Nets still have the rights to the talented Krstic. If he can come back from his terrible knee injury in 2010, New Jersey will be sitting pretty.
Guard Vince Carter, a dynamic player who has been in the league a decade, averaged 21.3 PPG, 5.1 APG and 6.0 RPG. He has been and is the foundation of the backcourt. Carter represents the sage vet, while Devin Harris, who has four years in the NBA, is the movement towards youth. Harris, who played in 64 games last season, averaged 14.8 PPG and made 5.8 APG. Keyon Dooling, formerly of Orlando, will provide fine backup while rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts could become an important part of the backcourt.
The Nets are rebuilding and that means that they need a few years to work hard, develop their talent and draft more skilled players. If Harris at guard and Jianlian at center can develop quickly, then this will be a better-than-expected season.