Three Man Weave: Week Five Edition
Last week didn’t go much better for the Brooklyn Nets. An 0-3 West Coast road trip soon morphed into a five-game losing streak after home losses against the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks (in triple overtime), before Friday night’s (narrow) victory in Oklahoma City against the injury-riddled Thunder. The team lost in San Antonio to close the week with a 1-3 record, and their 5-8 mark on the season is still good for second place in the Atlantic Division.
This week our three experts tackle more Nets struggles and inconsistent performances, before listing some NBA-related things to be thankful for after five weeks of the 2014-15 NBA season. Play along in the comments and have a happy Thanksgiving!
1.) The Nets are fresh off of a stretch of seven games in eleven days, with two separate road trips against teams from the Western Conference, and have only two games scheduled this week (Wednesday in Philadelphia and at home Sunday afternoon against the Bulls). With some actual practice time coming up, what does the team need to address before the schedule ramps up again in December (5 back-to-backs in 16 games)?
Kenny Garner: They need to work on trusting their offense. At the beginning of the season, the discussion was all about player movement and ball movement. Unfortunately we have not seen much of either. The Nets continue to rely on isolation sets which has made them easy to guard. In fact, they are in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency. Nets need to commit to the motion offense.
Brian McNichols: Oh boy, to say “everything” is probably too pithy. To pick one thing, I would say defensive awareness, which is pretty awful. While their offense isn’t great, it’s going to take more than a week to help that. However, a few days of reps with players just getting used to where offensive players are in a pick and roll scenario and practicing rotations could make a lot of difference. I doubt that this unit could ever be an elite defense, but they need to get it up to above average if they’re going to make the playoffs.
Jeremy Briggs: Everything. The Nets need to address and improve on everything. I’m joking, but the positives to be taken back from the Nets’ recent play have been few and far between. In all seriousness I really would like to see Coach Hollins nail down a tighter, more consistent rotation. More steady minutes off the bench for Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic would be nice. Sure, Plumlee has been disappointing and Mirza has shown inconsistency. But here’s the thing. First off, it’s hard for an individual to develop rhythm and a team to develop continuity when minute allocation is fluctuating on a nightly basis. Secondly, the long-term benefit of allowing the young(ish) fellas to play themselves out of slumps outweighs any short-term benefit of giving those minutes to guys like Alan Anderson or Jerome Jordan. Developing a regular rotation will foster cohesion for a team that has yet to show much chemistry.
2.) Plenty of Nets players can share some blame for the team’s 1-6 record over the last two weeks, but which player’s struggles alarm you so far in the season?
Garner: I would have to say Brook Lopez. Lopez has really struggled on the defensive side of the ball and Coach Hollins is obviously displeased. There have been many games where Lopez has not played in crunch time. The Nets need him to become more assertive on that side of the ball in order for the team to be successful.
McNichols: Mason Plumlee without question. The other players that have struggled are understandable, but Plumlee seems to have forgotten basic basketball somehow. That time with the US team and Coach K seems to have stolen his ability to do just about everything. Plums is shooting under 40% from the field despite 81% of his shots coming within 5 feet of the basket. On top of that he has been so bad defensively that Coach Hollins has had a quicker hook on him than your average Gong Show contestant (there’s a reference for you kids). I would be worried about a Space Jam-esque talent steal, but if an alien looked at that USA lineup and chose Mason Plumlee to steal talent from then we have nothing to fear from them.
Briggs: While Brook Lopez’s struggles have been well-documented, it is another Brooklyn 7-footer who has really disappointed me. Following a solid rookie campaign and a summer stint with the National team, it seemed Mason Plumlee was primed to have a breakout season. So far he has failed to blossom into the shot-swatting, floor-running, matchup problem that his athleticism and potential indicate he could become. His play of late has gotten so poor that he is losing minutes to Jerome Jordan. Not quite what you would expect from one of just twelve players chosen for the star-studded roster of Team USA.
3.) Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but what are you thankful for this holiday season, both from a Brooklyn Nets perspective but also as a general NBA fan?
Garner: As an NBA fan, I am thankful for Anthony Davis. Davis has been a joy to watch for NBA fans. Davis has improved so much since his freshman year at Kentucky and it appears that he will be star in this league for a long time. From a Brooklyn Nets perspective, it is nice to see Deron Williams looking healthy again. Williams has struggled with injuries during most of his time in Brooklyn. However, he is starting to look like the old Deron Williams which is great for the fans and the league.
McNichols: As a writer I am thankful that the Nets have been as interesting as I had hoped they would be. Now I hope that they start winning some so they don’t turn into a Knicks-ish joke. For the NBA, we should all be thankful for these times we live in. I have been watching the NBA since Bird’s Celtics and the Showtime Lakers and I have never seen so much talent at one time. Let’s all make sure we take time out from picking apart LeBron’s effort, Blake’s flopping, and Harden’s defense and appreciate just how spectacular basketball is. Oh, I’m also super-thankful for Anthony Davis.
Briggs: From a Nets perspective I am thankful for the “‘Vic’s”. Mirza and Bojan have been a joy to watch. They certainly have their flaws and inconsistencies but they are easy players to root for. Neither of them are young in comparison to most NBA hatchlings, but they have been a breath of fresh, exuberant air on an aging roster. It will be fun to see their development over the course of the season.
As an NBA fan I am thankful for so much. Here’s a Thanksgiving acrostic to demonstrate just a few of my favorite things from the young season.
T-im Duncan. In his thousandth season and still killing it. He’s the standard for NBA excellence.
U-nibrow and his reign of terror upon the league. Dude is a cheat code.
R-aptors. The Canadian ones. Between Drake sightings and their balanced attack they have become my League Pass go-to.
K-yrie’s puppeteer-like manipulation of the basketball. Is there credible proof that he isn’t a wizard?
E-verything about BOOGIE!
Y-oung Talent. The NBA is in such a great place right now and will be for years to come.
The NBA is so damn great. But relationships are greater. Make sure this holiday season to let your friends and family know just how thankful you are for them! Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!