Nets 129, Bucks 127: The New Brook Lopez?

That was wild. Just like the last time these two teams met at Barclays this season, it took three extra periods to decide a winner. Only this time, it was the Brooklyn Nets coming out on top, 129-127.

The Nets seemed to be in trouble early and often, as the Bucks took a few marginal leads out of the gates and even led by double-digits. Surprisingly, the Nets had little trouble scoring on the league’s second-stingiest defense. On the flipside, Milwaukee’s youth and athleticism made mincemeat of the Nets’ D, and when the Bucks didn’t score they grabbed a ton of offensive boards. 38 in total in fact, or a higher number than Brooklyn’s 37 defensive rebounds. Zaza Pachulia finished with 18 rebounds. Zaza Pachulia.

Anyway, some timely Nets runs behind improved defense got them in the thick of things. They forced overtime, then two, then three, then won! Note that this was against a much younger and much more athletic Bucks team. Who’s old and slow now? Bojan Bogdanovic continued his uber-aggressive post-All-Star play with 17 points along with a steal and two blocks. Thaddeus Young added 24 of his own and Joe Johnson scored 20 including some big buckets in the overtimes. However it was Brook Lopez who carried the Nets to victory, but not in his usual Brook Lopez way.



Nets 92, Cavaliers 117: Lethargic Losses and Lottery Luck

I don’t think anyone is surprised that the Brooklyn Nets went into Cleveland and lost to the hot Cavaliers. While a win would have been great, and extremely helpful in the playoff race, it was always a tough assignment for this struggling Nets team. What disappoints, irritates, and baffles me is the total lack of effort by the Nets as a whole once the going got a little tough (which, I’m told, is when the tough should get going). From the second quarter on, this was always going to be a blowout, and it was, as the Cavs went on to smack the Nets 117-92.

In a tale that is becoming as old as time, the Brooklyn starters came out like the fire of a thousand suns in the first quarter. They were forcing turnovers, guarding every position, and passing for the easy shot. Then, in a twist that is becoming so common that twists are offended, the reserves came in and it all fell apart.

In the first 9 minutes of this game, the Nets outscored the Cavs 22-13, outshot them 53% to 36%, outrebounded them 7-6, outassisted Cleveland 6-2, and has fewer turnovers (2-5). The rest of the way the Cavaliers turned all of that around, outscoring the Nets 104-70, outshooting them 59%-43%, outrebounding them 37-25, outassisting Brooklyn 30-17, and having fewer turnovers (6-9).

There was precisely one Brooklyn Net with a positive +/-…Markel Brown, the subject of much of my current Brooklyn Nets love. The worst of the starting five was Deron Williams with a minus-15, although he was beaten by the three main reserves, Jarrett Jack (-16), Mason Plumlee (-23), and Bojan Bogdanovic (-34).


Frankly, I could go on and on and on about how terrible the Nets were both offensively and defensively from the end of the first quarter onward, but I just did that last week. Go ahead and read about the Brooklyn patented “hot-start-fall-apart” and just apply everything to this game as well. So I’d rather use this space to discuss a different beef I have with our Brooklyn boys…well, more their front office.

I have written here before about my frustration with the Brooklyn Nets and General Manager Billy King trading away an unending stream of first round draft picks, but this seems like a good time to explain why. Many fans and GMs alike overvalue draft picks, but that does not mean they are not important.

Why people love a high draft pick is simple: that’s when you can get a superstar for a steal of a contract. What makes them overvalued is obvious looking through any past draft lottery. Each year is filled with players that just didn’t work. Heck, even if we just focus on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets over the past 15 years we find Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, Luke Jackson, Eddie Griffin, and Terrance Williams…all picks within the top 11. You all still have your Eddie Griffin jerseys, right?

There is another aspect of this though: that all the good teams have players that they drafted very high (or at least traded for on draft night). Here’s a list of impactful players that were drafted in the top 10 between 2006 and 2010 and are still with their drafting teams: John Wall, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, Joakim Noah, LaMarcus Aldridge. Any players in there leading championship contenders?

I know, I know…the draft is certainly not the only way to build a championship contending team. Look at the Houston Rockets, who have two very high lottery picks in Dwight Howard and James Harden, yet they acquired both through other means. The problem is that the Nets don’t have nearly the tradable assets that Houston did. Besides, recent history is showing that drafting smartly (or perhaps luckily) is the easier, quicker way to the NBA Finals.

Since 2006, eight different teams have appeared in the NBA Finals. Each of them has had a very important player that was picked in the lottery (although some were via draft day trades). They are:

Team Finals Appearances Lottery Player Draft Position
Miami Heat 5 Dwyane Wade 5
San Antonio Spurs 3 Tim Duncan 1
Los Angeles Lakers 3 Kobe Bryant 13
Boston Celtics 2 Paul Pierce 10
Dallas Mavericks 2 Dirk Nowitzki 9
Cleveland Cavaliers 1 LeBron James 1
Orlando Magic 1 Dwight Howard 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 1 Kevin Durant 2


It is not a coincidence that all of these teams have a major player found in the lottery. Even the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat, three teams that prefer to play the free agent market, all needed help from the lottery.

Bringing it back to tonight’s game is interesting, because both teams fit the “build around a lottery player” mold. Obviously Cleveland have Kyrie Irving (because LeBron doesn’t count anymore since returned as a free agent), but Brooklyn has Brook Lopez, a player they selected 10th overall. The difference with these two teams is expectations and, frankly, the future. Very, very few of even the diehardest (Die Hard 6…Die Hardest) Nets fans are still hoping for a Finals run, but Cleveland is looking strong. On top of that, their future seems to be a little brighter as well.

I’m not saying teams should tank, although I understand why they do. What I’m saying is that sending your potential future to another team could make the future darker than intended. Look at the Knicks or the Lakers right now; teams that have consistently sent their first round picks for stars. Let’s be nice and just say it didn’t work out for them, but on top of that they also have no way to rebuild that doesn’t involve spending way more money.

Unfortunately, that’s the big difference between the Nets and the Cavs: Cleveland has repeatedly put themselves position to get superstars. Sure, lots of luck went into all those number 1 picks, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they kept trading them away. The Nets sold everything for the chance for a title and now the repo men are taking all the furniture.

Let’s take a quick look at Oklahoma City, a team with undoubted talent that may still miss the playoffs due to unforeseen injuries. They have made several trades over the past few years, and undoubtedly expected to not be in the lottery, yet they still have their pick (technically it’s been traded, but it’s top-18 protected in 2015). So it’s possible that the Thunder will add yet another very good player if they miss the playoffs.

I won’t go over the Nets draft future again because it’s just too depressing, but let them stand as a warning to all. You should want to wear shades because the future’s so bright, not because you’re embarrassed to be a Nets fan.



A Nets Fans’ Guide to the NCAA Tournament

It’s that time of year again. A time filled with excitement, intrigue, and strong takeaways from one 40 minute game involving a bunch of teenagers and a bouncing ball. Oh, Wisconsin lost in the second round? Obviously because they’re chokers who’s slow pace is just a gimmick that can’t work in March. Duke ended up winning the national championship? Coach K paid off the refs, like always. Andrew Wiggins went 1-6 and only scored 4 points as 2 seeded Kansas got upset by Stanford? Wiggins isn’t ready for the NBA, he needs to stay in college or he’ll bust. As the weather gets warmer, the takes get hotter, a tradition unlike any other. Even if that’s the Master’s slogan and not the NCAA’s it still works. There are going to be a lot of people watching NBA prospects for the first time this spring, and whether it be from one game or six, people will surely come away with definite conclusions on each players future. Like any good NBA fan you should be able to have a strong, assured opinion on whoever the Nets end up taking, so here is a region by region guide to who you should be watching. This isn’t a comprehensive guide of every prospect in the tournament who the Nets might draft; I limited my scope to players ranked between #25-50 on either Draft Express or Chad Ford’s Big Board, but this should cover almost everyone. When it comes to tournament play, there certainly are things to learn from seeing prospects go up against other high level competition. Still, no single game should influence an overall body of work too much, and it is important to remember that the way player x is playing when you watch them, is not the way they always play. Cleanthony Early and Andrew Wiggins can attest to this. Also, these aren’t my opinions on players, but instead quick overviews of their general outlooks. So without further ado, a guide to the Nets relevant prospects in this years tournament. Read More


Nets 122, Timberwolves 106: Bojan breaking out

With the Minnesota Timberwolves on the second night of a back-to-back and without (*deep breath*) Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic, Gary Neal, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammed, and Robbie Hummel, the Brooklyn Nets found themselves in a favorable situation before the game even began. From the opening tip the Nets forced the ball inside, hit the offensive glass, and turned Timberwolves turnovers into good looks on the offensive end and led by double-digits over the course of the entire second half, winning 122-106 in Minnesota.

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How Thaddeus Young has Fared in Brooklyn

When the Brooklyn Nets traded starting power forward Kevin Garnett at this season’s trade deadline, the natural assumption was when - and not if - Thaddeus Young would replace him in the starting lineup. With the Nets in the midst of their season-high eight-game road trip at the time and practice opportunities scarce, including five games in nine days post-All-Star break and trade deadline, head coach Lionel Hollins chose to bring Young off the bench in favor of smaller lineups with Joe Johnson at the power forward and Alan Anderson and rookie Markel Brown at the wing spots. Hollins explained it initially as the Nets embracing their identity as a “small team” in the wake of KG’s departure and Mirza Teletovic’s season-ending injury, and basically equated Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young as power forward options, due to their similar size.

That lasted about two weeks. The first cracks in Hollins’s Joe Johnson-at-power forward strategy began in Friday’s home loss to the Phoenix Suns, when he went to Young to start the second half in place of Markel Brown. By Sunday’s tipoff against the Utah Jazz, Young and Brook Lopez were both inserted into the starting lineup alongside Deron, Markel, and Joe; which has thus far lasted the next two games (as of this writing) - in losses against New Orleans and at Miami.

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Nets 94, Sixers 87

It was the classic tortoise vs hare scenario.

The young, upstart Sixers began the game by using energy and athleticism to build an early lead. Despite drawing 10 first quarter fouls - causing Sixers coach Brett Brown to use all 11 active players - the Nets trailed 29-27 at the end of the period. Philadelphia continued to use flash in the second quarter, as they produced several highlight plays capped off by a Nerlens Noel block that lead to a Robert Covington dunk on the other end (from a Jason Richardson off-the-backboard pass nonetheless). As a result of sloppy defense and poor shooting, the Nets trailed 56-51 going into the half.

But as the old fable indicates, slow and steady wins the race. The Nets held steady and never deviated from what they do well. They were able to slow the pace down in the second half and tighten up on the defensive end. The Sixers certainly missed their fair share of open looks, but holding any NBA team to 10 points in a quarter is an accomplishment. And that is exactly what the Nets did as they used a 23-10 advantage in the third period to build up a lead that they never relinquished; ultimately winning the game 94-87.

Thaddeus Young stood out as a key performer tonight as he tallied 21 points on an array of crafty runners and flip-shots while also bringing down 9 rebounds. (Stay tuned here to Brooklyn’s finest as Paul Mitchell has a Thad-centric post that will hit the site tomorrow.) Jarrett Jack was also a strong contributor off the bench, as he chipped in 12 points and 8 assists.



1. The win tonight brings the Nets’ record to 26-38. They now sit 3 games behind Charlotte for the eighth seed and 3.5 games behind Indiana for the seventh seed.

2. The Nets have two remaining games against the Pacers and one against the Hornets. It’s fair to say that these will he must-win games.

3. While the stats don’t necessarily reflect it, Deron Williams was huge for the Nets tonight. He was just plain steady in his 26 minutes tonight, always seeming to be in control.

4. If Brooklyn will have any chance to make the playoffs, D-Will must continue to be that type of floor general for the last 18 games.

5. Almost-Net Thomas Robinson showed why the Nets’ reported singing of him would have been a coup. He was relentless on the boards, as he pulled down 12 rebounds to go with 7 points in just 17 minutes for the Sixers.

6. It really is disappointing that Sam Hinkie stole T-Rob from the Nets’ grasps, as he is just the type of potential-laden athlete that the Nets are desperate for.

7. Markel-sanity continues to die down. He receives the Alan Anderson award tonight, given to a Net that plays 20+ minutes but goes largely unnoticed. He had just 2 points and was rather tentative on both ends of the floor.

8. Speaking of going unnoticed, it was another rough outing for Bojan Bogdanovic. Tabbed as a dark-horse Rookie-of-the-year candidate coming into the season, Bojan has consistently struggled. He shows occasional flashes, but has a lot to improve on going into his sophomore campaign. Here’s hoping he can do that.

9. Am I wrong to say that the Nets have the league’s craftiest front court? They are far from the most talented or most athletic trio, but Joe Johnson, Thad Young and Brook Lopez all seem to have a true knack for hitting tough in-between type shots around the basket.

10. The Nets reconvene on Monday in Minnesota. Can they take care of business on the road against another of the NBA’s bottom feeders?


Trending in Brooklyn: Even More Starting Lineup Changes

Everything was going so well for the Brooklyn Nets since the All-Star break… and then everything turned terrible again. Here’s what’s trending in Brooklyn: Read More


Brooklyn’s Finest Kicks - February 2015

The month of February saw a tornado of player relocations occur at the NBA trade deadline. Those historical trade winds ultimately swept away Kevin Garnett and his collection of Anta sneakers back to Minnesota.

While KG’s passion and leadership will be missed in Brooklyn, many of his sneaker choices won’t be. For those of you who appreciate sneakers with Garnett’s scowling visage on the tongue, enjoy! For those of you who don’t, enjoy anyway! Here’s a look back at some of KG’s finest kicks from his time as a Net.




The gold and blue-camo accenting make these pairs my favorites from KG’s tenure in Brooklyn. The cleanest pairs KG laced up came when he deviated from the basic black/gray/white color scheme.




While some may appreciate the simplicity of these kicks, they’re wrong to do so. Take away the logos on the shoes and it would appear as if KG were playing in orthotics.



Most players opt for logos that reflect their initials or jersey number. Kevin Garnett isn’t most players. Discovering his scowling face logo makes writing about the Nets worth it in and of itself. Thanks, KG. Brooklyn will miss you and your angry sneakers.





Continued thanks to KeezOnSports for the images.



Nets 98, Heat 104: Jerome Jordan meets his archetype

Well, not exactly. Miami’s Hassan Whiteside missed this game due to being suspended for a cheap shot on Kelly Olynyk. The Heat managed just fine without him against the lowly Nets however, kicking off the game with a 34-point first quarter. Miami knocked down 10 of its first 11 shots and 11 of its 14 field goals came at the rim. The Nets’ defense was… rough, to say the least. The Lopez-Young frontcourt was abysmal trying to guard and Alan Anderson being absent didn’t help.

The game got out of hand from there, and aside from a few semi-runs from the Nets at certain points, Miami held control for the rest of the way. Silver linings are that Thaddeus Young’s still looking good offensively, Brook Lopez has continued working his behind off on the glass and Deron Williams looked spry with 18 points on 10 shots.


Although Whiteside couldn’t get on the court and exercise his usual 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a night, he’s been the biggest story surrounding this Heat team all season. Those numbers don’t look all too glamorous, but they’re in just 22 minutes a night. Per-36, they’re at 17.9 points, 16 rebounds and 3.9 blocks on 62.5% shooting from the field. Miami’s been better on both ends of the court with Whiteside playing and yet he’s had an almost identical path to the NBA of one Jerome Jordan. Read More


Coming to Grips With The Nets 2015 Draft Pick

In early January, when I first wrote about the upcoming draft for the Nets, I said “the Nets are currently projected to get the 28th pick in the upcoming draft, but this is subject to change as the Hawks probably won’t keep up the scorching pace.” This is what we in the business call being wrong. The Hawks are one loss out of first place in the NBA, and have a solid five-game lead on third place Memphis. At this point, it is safe to say that Brooklyn will be picking either 29th or 30th in the upcoming draft. To add insult to injury, the Nets haven’t exactly set the world on fire since my last post. Currently sitting with the 9th worst record in the league, and on the outside looking in on the Eastern conference playoff picture, the Nets are most likely going to be giving up a valuable lottery pick to the Hawks. Needless to say, things are a little bleak, but the one small silver lining is the Nets’ second round pick. If the Nets maintain their current position in the standings, they will have the 9th pick of the second round, a semi-valuable asset that could either be used to draft someone interesting, or potentially package with the Nets’ first rounder to move up in the draft.

One piece of news regarding the Nets’ upcoming draft that has come out since my last posting is this interesting tweet from Nets Daily:

Considering Brown and Jefferson were drafted 44th and 60th overall respectively, it’s fair to say the Nets really do place emphasis on drafting seniors. For a team desperately lacking youth, athleticism, and upside, I’m not sure if that’s the best strategy, but Brown and Jefferson have both outperformed expectations this year, so the Nets deserve the benefit of the doubt. The Nets’ love of seniors probably isn’t limited to just the second round; with their last first round pick in 2013, they took senior Mason Plumlee, and he has also significantly outperformed the expected value of a 22nd overall pick. With this in mind, I thought I’d take a look at some of the seniors who are ranked in the 25-75 range on either DraftExpress or Chad Ford’s Big Board. There are only five seniors who appear between 25-75 on either site, Delon Wright, Anthony Brown, Rakeem Christmas, Alan Williams, and Shannon Scott, and Wright is the only one who is a top-40 prospect on either site. Unfortunately, while Draft Express has Wright at 32nd on their big board, Ford has him 23rd overall, putting him at high risk of being taken before the Nets’ selection. If this ends up happening, there really won’t be any seniors deserving of that draft slot, and the Nets will either wind up reaching for a senior, or branching out to someone else. Meanwhile, with their second round pick, the other four would be realistic options, but none present a great value even at 39th overall. The Nets are certainly not limited to only seniors, and given the lack of seniors in their draft range, I doubt they end up with more than one senior from draft night. However, if they do stick to their recent trend, I would have to guess the Nets come away with one of these five guys: Read More