To be honest: On the list of things that keep me up at night, wondering how the Brooklyn Nets will perform this season doesn’t rank very high. There are greater unknowns, like whether any of us will find true meaning or whether the Uber app will run out of its kitten shortage before it’s too late. Besides, we don’t have to imagine how the Nets can or will play: We’re about to witness it over the next several months, a season’s worth of possibilities awaiting us. That said, the reasons why we’re excited to watch the Nets play still exist, and here’s a few of them—along with a few predictions that will, most likely, be terribly wrong.
NBA teams are increasingly utilizing D-League affiliates to develop young players, get them familiar with team systems and concepts, and provide them with live game experience that’s not available on the pro club. Currently 14 D-League teams have direct relationships with single NBA teams, while the remaining three D-League squads split the other 16 NBA teams.
This year, the Brooklyn Nets are one of the teams with a single affiliate; that being the Springfield Armor. Last year, the Nets called up Damion Jones and Kris Joseph from their respective D-League clubs, the Bakersfield Jam and the Armor. (The Nets previously had relationships with multiple D-League affiliates). Prior to last season, the New Jersey Nets had called up 13 D-League players over the course of the previous 11 seasons.
One current Nets player whose name has been discussed for a possible D-League stint is first round draft pick, Mason Plumlee. With the addition of Kevin Garnett, a healthy Brook Lopez, a resigned Andray Blatche, and Reggie Evans on board, the Nets have a crowded, veteran front court. Those four are ready to chase a championship and win now, whereas Plumlee will need time to develop from project big man to steady rotation player.
“This isn’t possible if I don’t have my teammates. When I go up there today, I take my teammates with me. I’ve only known one way to play the game, and that’s hard, but I could never play by myself. I would like to thank my teammates and I hope you guys understand… when we go up, we all go up together.”
- Nets Head Coach, Jason Kidd, during his jersey retirement ceremony last night
Sounds like a full length version of ‘All In’ doesn’t it? Jason Kidd, the consummate professional, the guy everyone wanted to play with, the coach on the court turned Head Coach, was honored Thursday night in front of his family, friends, and former colleagues in a pregame ceremony before the Nets’ preseason game against the Miami Heat.
Going into last night’s Nets preseason game there were three things I wanted to watch closely. The first was how Shaun Livingston looked getting the start for the injured Deron Williams. All signs point to D-Will being ready for the opener, but just in case he’s not, Livingston will have to be ready to assume the starting point guard duties. That’s no small feat on a team featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez. That’s a lot of mouths to feed from the point guard position.
The second thing I was paying special to was the Nets transition defense. It’s been a point of emphasis throughout training camp: The Nets struggled mightily getting back on defense last season, and with an aging roster, it will be imperative for that to change. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett should actually help in this regard, as they come from a system in Boston which stressed transition defense over offensive rebounding nearly every time down the court.
The last thing I was watching for was how the offense flowed. Coach Kidd may have a tough time spreading the ball around with so many proven veteran scorers on the court at once. It will be important for Williams and Livingston to try and keep everyone happy within the natural flow of the offense.
“We all understand what our goal is.”
- Dwight Howard, 2012 Lakers Media Day
“It’s the next challenge. It means everything.”
- Kobe Bryant, 2012 Lakers Media Day
The NBA has always been about superstars carrying their teams to rings. Magic and Kareem, Bird, McHale and Parish, Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, and now James and Wade. Think back to last year’s Lakers team that trotted out one of the most talent-laden teams in league history. Kobe and Pau Gasol teaming up with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash?! Everyone was convinced they’d run away with the West and meet Miami in a ‘Clash of the Superpowers’ Finals.
We all know how that turned out. The Lakers struggled with injuries, a coaching change, and an incredible lack of depth all season before Bryant tore his Achilles down the stretch. They bowed out of the playoffs in four games to a vastly superior San Antonio team, and now the rebuilding process is on in LaLa Land.
After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DWI charge back in July, coach Jason Kidd has been suspended today by the NBA for the first two games of the 2013-14 season. Kidd will not be on the sidelines when the Nets face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the October 30th season opener or in the much-hyped home opener on November 1st against the Miami Heat.
Nets GM Billy King released the following statement:
“The decision is consistent with what the league has done in the past and we look forward to Jason leading our team versus Orlando and the rest of the year.”
Last week, Deron Williams was a guest on the YES Network’s CenterStage with Michael Kay. During the hour-long sit down interview Williams was asked about his upbringing in suburban Dallas, how he ended up at the University of Illinois, the restaurant scene in Salt Lake City, and how he really felt about being traded to the then New Jersey Nets. I’ll skip the quotes for those of you that are interested in watching the program, but one thing definitely stood out to me sitting four rows away from the Nets superstar: He’s ready to win.
From the opening segment to posing for pictures at the end, Williams demeanor never changed. He was relaxed, confident but gracious, with a touch of attitude. He handled shout outs from the audience between segments with the same honesty as he did Michael Kay’s on-camera questioning.