2009-10 New Jersey Nets Season Preview
It’s been a slow process, the decline of the New Jersey Nets (34- 48). Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson have been gone a season. This year the team is also minus Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson and Maurice Ager. For the past two seasons, the Nets have finished under .500. In the early part of the decade, they were the dominant club in the Atlantic Division. The Celtics were of no consequence. This year, the Nets will have a tough time finishing ahead of anyone in the division, including the New York Kicks. It’s time to rebuild in New Jersey.
Last year in his rookie season, center Brook Lopez (13.0 PPG, 8.q RPG, 1.84 BPG) surprised everyone with his solid and at times standout play. He looks to be the anchor and go-to guy upfront. For power forward Yi Jianlian (8.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.0 APG), who starts his third season in the pros, this year is about breaking through. He needs to show more confidence and use more tools in order to be a successful NBA player. The small forward starting spot could go to one of two veterans: Bobby Simmons (7.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.3 APG) or Jarvis Hayes (8.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.7 APG). Hayes looks to hold the most promise.
The backcourt is in better shape than the front. Point guard Devin Harris (21.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.9 APG) returns as the leading scorer. He’s also a fine playmaker. Courtney Lee (8.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG), now in his second NBA season and his first as a starter and with the Nets, is a lights out shooter, hitting threes 40% of the time and field goals at a rate of 45%. He’s the best free throw man, hitting 83% of his chances. Both Harris and Lee are able defenders, although more on-ball “D” is expected from Harris. Rafer Alston (11.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.3 APG), who’s been in the league a decade, is an excellent backup point man. Tony Battie (4.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 0.4 APG), who along with Lee and Alston came to the Nets via a trade with Orlando, comes off the bench as a reliable swing. He and Alston are both fine defenders.
This is a team with a deep backcourt that can score and defend. The guard spots are the strength. The problem for the Nets lies in the forward spots. The frontcourt is one man deep at this point and the talented Lopez can’t be expected to do it all.
Coach Lawrence Frank does his best with what he has. In 2008- 2009, Frank had to deal with a depleted roster and too many injuries on a team that offered a weak bench. He kept the team in the hunt for a playoff spot for the majority of the season. This year will be different. No one will harbor any hope that the Nets will be in the playoffs. By the midpoint of the season, New Jersey’s season will be in the trash basket. This is a young and athletic team and it’s hoped that they can develop what they have and find some help in next year’s draft. New Jersey will win less than 27 games and finish last in the division and conference.