Sunday, June 13, 2010

On the Clock: New Jersey Nets


Assuming New Jersey does the smart thing this summer and drafts Derrick Favors, their frontcourt rotation will be Brook Lopez, Favors, Kris Humphries, and Josh Boone. While Boone and Humphries aren't quality NBA starters, they are serviceable rotation players who compliment one another nicely. In other words, if this scenario plays out and the Nets can stay healthy next year, they'll be above average up front.

Devin Harris was an All-Star in 2009 and many believe he still has the potential to be a franchise point guard. The Nets also have a nice rotation of young perimeter players including 2009 first rounder Terrence Williams, off-guards Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and wild card Yi Jianlian. Williams' transition to the NBA got off to a slow start, but he played very well down the stretch, showing the scoring and play-making ability that made him so successful at Louisville. Lee, Douglas-Roberts, and Yi all struggled with injuries throughout the season, which is a big reason why the Nets found themselves looking up at the rest of the league. (Remember that Harris missed 18 games, too.)

When healthy the 2010-2011 Nets could have a rotation of nine productive players (counting Favors) including four big men and five perimeter players. They also have a significant amount of money left under the cap (about $23 M assuming Humphries picks up his player option and the team decides to pick up their options on Keyon Dooling, Douglas-Roberts, and Boone, which total about $7.7 M).

Avery Johnson is well-respected by players throughout the league, and his hiring should be a selling point to prospective free agent targets, as should the deep pockets of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and the team's looming move to Brooklyn.

While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would look great surrounded by Lopez, Favors, and Harris, I still think New Jersey has only an outside chance at one of those two. After James and Wade, the free agent crop is a little thin on the perimeter, with Joe Johnson the best remaining option. Although Johnson made it clear during the season that the Nets were far from his top option, they certainly offer an intriguing situation, both from an on-court and off-court standpoint. Of the three, Johnson is the most consistent outside shooter, and considering the current makeup of the Nets' roster, that is probably their biggest need.

Best Case Roster for 2010:

PG-Devin Harris, Willie Warren (#27), Keyon Dooling

SG-Joe Johnson (FA), Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts

SF-Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian

PF-Derrick Favors (#3), Kris Humphries

C-Brook Lopez, Josh Boone

2010-2011 Projection:

34-48 (10th in the Eastern Conference)

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