2015 ESPN #NBArank – Brooklyn Nets, Part 1

This first portion will focus on the Brooklyn players who are projected to come off the bench, as ranked by ESPN’s #NBArank. After scoring on 36 percent of the team’s total 98 points per game average last season, the Brooklyn bench will look to improve in hopes of alleviating the load off the starters. This bench will carry new-found youth and odd misfits with the departure of Mirza Teletovic (Phoenix), Alan Anderson (Washington), Jarrett Jack (starter), and Mason Plumlee (Portland). It will be interesting to see how key bench veterans (Bargnani, Ellington) can help some of the young guys, as they finally get their first real taste of healthy NBA minutes.

  1. Shane Larkin

A classic pick-and-roll point guard, Larkin never got an opportunity while playing for Dallas and New York. The former Miami guard needs the ball to become effective and contribute while on the court. As a 20.4 usage-rate player at the U, Larkin’s ability to command respect on his perimeter shot will prove essential to forecast if he is a true NBA guard. He will need to get close to this usage number while he’s on the floor to carve out a meaningful role with the Nets. Depending on if this happens, Larkin could very well be in the top-250 ranks for next season, or he could find himself unranked and out of the league. Despite his speed, his small frame at 5’11” allows opposing guards to take advantage of him. For the past two years, Larkin along with his father, Hall of Fame second baseman Barry Larkin, have been clamoring for an opportunity. Now with Brooklyn, he will finally get a shot at true rotation minutes. Pigeonholed out of the triangle offense by the New York Knicks, Brooklyn will perhaps be his last chance to prove he belongs in the Association.

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The Morning Tip-Off: ‘Joe Johnson is Getting Old’

Every weekday morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night). 


1.The numbers (‘Analytics’!) continue to paint a grim picture for this Brooklyn Nets team. In Nylon Calculus’ Brooklyn Nets Season Preview, the Nets are predicted to win 24.3, 25, 28, and 21 games respectively by the various prediction models different writers for the site have developed. The oft-mentioned ‘Jarret Jack is really bad by the numbers’ argument is brought up once again, unsurprisingly, but this preview was also pretty harsh on the highest paid player on this Nets roster, Joe Johnson:

…but Joe Johnson is getting old and he doesn’t offer an NBA team too much of anything anymore besides inexplicable all-star appearances. His usage rate has fallen to an average level, and since historically much of his value has been tied to his scoring this is a concern. He’s still a decent playmaker with isolation and post moves, but it’s not enough to make a big dent in an NBA defense.

If your scoring skills are pretty average, and with his efficiency that’s generous, you need to perform at an elite level in other key areas to drive your team’s offense. Johnson doesn’t offer great screens or Korver-esque spacing or otherworldly offensive rebounding and foul drawing – he’s a good passer, but he’s lacking wizardry there and he wasn’t even a heavy primary option for what turned out to be a mediocre offense. His defense is still pretty good but I shouldn’t have to convince anyone that the aging wing isn’t a game-changer there. Add it all up, and hopefully he projects as an above average player but nothing special – yet he’ll be making nearly 25 million dollars.

In short, Joe Johnson does not offer much any longer, especially to a less talented roster.

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Atlantic Division Preview

Last season, the Atlantic Division was the worst in the NBA. It had two of the three worst teams in the league in the Knicks and 76ers; the teams with the two worst records in the playoffs in the Celtics and Nets; and a division-winning Raptors team that failed to win a single game in the first round of the playoffs, losing four straight games to the Washington Wizards by an average margin of 14 points despite having home-court advantage. The division was bad, but as the season went on it became steadily more depressing. Each team broke hearts in its own special way: the Knicks lost Carmelo Anthony to injury after the All-Star break, the Sixers traded away Michael Carter-Williams, the Nets dealt with the Deron Williams saga, the Raptors watched Kyle Lowry decline from borderline MVP candidate to borderline unplayable, and the Celtics started Evan Turner.

But with the new season comes renewed hope, as each of these teams can legitimately claim that they improved in the offseason. Whether that leads to success on the court remains to be seen. So, what should you expect from these teams in the upcoming season?

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The Morning Tip-Off: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Buys His Mom a House

Every weekday morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night). 

1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson surprised his mom with a brand new home and wrote about the experience (video included) for The New York Post:

We were searching for the house for a while. My brother, the realtor, my uncle and a couple others were looking at houses and telling me about it, and I thought this one was the perfect fit.

When I told the woman who owned the house why we were buying it, she cried. Being a mom, she understood what it meant more than us guys do. It was an emotional moment, and then she said, “We can make this happen.” They even bought my mom a cake!

Around draft time there are plenty of opinions about whether or not these young kids should stay in college or enter the NBA Draft to become a professional. I always tend to lean towards the line of thinking that says, “Who are we to tell these kids how they should make this decision?”

I’m not sure what Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s upbringing was like. I’m not sure how much money he and his family had as he went through high school and college. But, it really does not matter. There are very few professional positions that a 18 or 19 year old can walk into and immediately repay his parents in the way that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did here.

Good for Rondae. Good for his mom. Good for his family.

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The Morning Tip-Off: Playoffs? Playoffs!? (and Andrea Bargnani)

Every weekday morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night). 

1. Alert! A positive Brooklyn Nets Season Preview! Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, is slightly bullish on the Brooklyn Nets chances this season. Especially in comparison to the majority of the NBA blog-o-sphere.

The Nets have questions. Can Jarrett Jack be a full time starter after the cutting of Deron Williams. Is Bojan Bogdanovic ready to start alongside of him. But if Lopez is ready to shoulder a heavy workload, Brooklyn should compete for a playoff spot in the East.

Mannix raises the same concerns as many with Jarrett Jack as the starting point guard position, but he’s intrigued by the Nets more subtle approach this off-season, pointing out that Chris McCullough could be a player down the road despite the unlikeliness that he makes any impact at all this season. He also projects rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as the potential wing stopper the Nets so desperately need.

But maybe the most surprising part of this, is Mannix’s optimistic view of the Andrea Bargnani acquisition. Speaking of which…

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Andrea Bargnani’s Health Leaves Nets with Questions as Season Looms

The Brooklyn Nets’ most high-profile acquisition this off season is, without a doubt, Andrea Bargnani. But don’t let my anointing him the team’s ‘most high profile acquisition’ fool you as he was competing with role players like Wayne Ellington and Thomas Robinson. Despite being perhaps the most talented acquisition, Bargnani is beginning the season as he typically does: injured.

The 7-foot Italian hasn’t suited up for a game all preseason for the Nets as he has suffered from a hamstring injury, which is the same hamstring that caused him to miss most of the first month of last season. The ‘Andrea Bargnani Era’ in Brooklyn seems to be starting off on the wrong foot, per usual.

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The Morning Tip-Off: Season Preview Roundup

Every weekday morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night). 

1. FiveThirtyEight predicts the Brooklyn Nets will go 25-57 as part of their NBA Season Preview. They also point to the Deron Williams for Jarrett Jack swap as a point of concern analytically:

Deron Williams — loved by advanced statistics, if not by his teammates — was given $27.5 million to go away. Therefore, this season — considered a “bridge year” by some inside the organization — will serve as an NBA roster experiment in team chemistry vs. analytics. Brooklyn’s biggest issues will likely be at point guard and on defense.

FiveThirtyEight unveiled its CARMELO player projection system this season and supply plenty of individual player projections within this article as well. Go check that out, but be prepared to see a lot of downward trends on this Nets roster.

One thing of note within their team projection. Only Thomas Robinson projects as a player that will spend time at multiple positions for the Nets. I’m not sure if that’s a function of the FiveThirtyEight projection system, or if it’s a function of a not-very-versatile roster and old school coach in Lionel Hollins. But, the Nets will almost assuredly have to experiment with lineups over the course of this season.

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The Morning Tip-Off: ‘Ian Eagle is a God’

Every morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night). 

1. Grantland’s Zach Lowe released Part 1 of his Annual NBA League Pass Rankings. You may not be surprised to learn that he ranked the Brooklyn Nets 28th in the NBA, behind the Sixers, Blazer, Lakers, and (gasp…) Knicks. The lack of offensive creativity and star power likely contribute to this, but Lowe may be underestimating the young athletes on this roster that may or may not get more playing time as the season progresses. At least the Nets scored an NBA-best ’10’ in Lowe’s ‘League Pass Minutiae’ category:

An unwatchable cast of vanilla slowpokes, misfits, and fringe players (and Thad Young) lifted from dead last by the only perfect “10” League Pass Minutiae score. The Nets, once again, sport the league’s best top-to-bottom broadcast experience. Ian Eagle is a god, dropping deadpan gold and fake-feuding with Mike Fratello. The czar brings hoops expertise, dry humor, and delightfully bad stick-figure telestrations of upcoming opponents Eagle deciphers in a warped NBA version of Pictionary — one of the best running gags in broadcast sports.

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Preseason Recap: Nets 92, Sixers 91 – Brook Lopez Leads By Example

The Nets grabbed their second win of the preseason by leaning on the best performance so far from Brook Lopez, as he tried to increase his role and playing time as the regular season approaches. Besides making an effort to score and facilitate the offense, Lopez also appeared more vocal and supportive of his teammates, which kept him engaged enough to outplay the young big men from the Sixers.

Once the starters sat down, the Nets had struggles defensively, leading to a nine point deficit in the second quarter. The second unit struggled on the offensive end as well, with Justin Harper being the only player to score from the field with his seven first-half points. Harper was one of the main reasons for Brooklyn’s defensive struggles, as the big man was late to help on a trio of drives that gave the 76ers momentum.

The starters eventually returned and retook the lead before the half behind a dominant 19 points from Lopez. The offensive center also played the largest amount of minutes in the first half, which might have had a lot to do with his ability to match up against Jahlil Okafor. Both centers led their team in scoring at the half, with the Nets holding a 49-47 lead.

The Nets continued their momentum in the third quarter, where they stretched the lead to double digits after a pair of forced turnovers led to easy baskets. Philadelphia inched back into the game to end the third quarter by outplaying Brooklyn’s second unit for a second time.

With a 67-64 lead going into the final quarter the Nets held on for their first home victory of the preseason, despite a late push by Philadelphia. Lopez didn’t find the space he had in the first half, but still finished as the team’s top scorer with 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting. It was his best scoring performance of the preseason and the Nets have only won when he has scored at least seven field goals.

Shane Larkin showed glimpses of his passing game against the Sixers after struggling to set up teammates in the last two games. As the backup to Jarrett Jack the young point guard has displayed spurts of both scoring and passing in the preseason, but has been unable to do both consistently in the same game.


  • Justin Harper was the only player to finish the game with two 3-pointers made. His ability to stretch the floor could be interesting moving forward if he can figure out his defensive rotations.
  • The Nets made just four 3-pointers out of 17 attempts.
  • Thaddeus Young led the Nets with 10 rebounds in a team-high 32 minutes of action while adding 15 points.
  • Brook Lopez picked up four blocks to singlehandedly out-block the tandem of Nerlins Noel and rookie big man Jahlil Okafor.



Lamar Odom Fights For His Life

As of this writing, Lamar Odom is out of his coma but still is in critical condition after being found unresponsive in a Las Vegas brothel. After originally being reported by multiple outlets that Odom took herbal Viagra and consumed cognac, it is now being reported that cocaine was found in his system.

This article is not being written by a Brooklyn’s Finest writer, but by a fan of Lamar Odom. A fan who looked at Odom as being a real basketball prodigy who was blessed by God with tremendous skill and ability. I remember the last second three-pointer to upset Temple when he was at the University of Rhode Island back in 1999 to win the Atlantic 10 title. The man put Rhode Island on the map when he led the team to the Sweet 16 that same year. I remember when his Los Angeles Clippers rookie jersey was the hottest-selling jersey in the NBA (I have the blue one). I mean, who rocks his own jersey in a Jadakiss rap video?!

Lamar Odom’s high school career was well-known when he played for Christ The King Regional High School in Queens, New York. When he transferred, Odom was named the Parade Magazine Player of the Year in 1997. He was also named to the USA Today All-USA First Team as a senior. He was respected and revered all over New York, and was affectionately known in Rucker Park as “The Goods” because that is what he always delivered. To people who don’t know, not everyone who rolls into the Rucker always get nicknames (just ask Kobe Bryant, who walked into Rucker without a nickname and left without one, too).

People look at the Los Angeles Clippers today and think “Lob City”, but when Lamar Odom was drafted by the Clippers it was “Sob City”. The Clippers selected Odom with the fourth selection in the 1999 draft, amidst a long line of lottery picks. Anyone who can survive scoring 17 points and stock the stat line on a Donald Sterling-owned team (the team was in turmoil long before the racism scandal) and escape with his career intact deserves much praise.

When Lamar Odom arrived in Miami as a free agent in 2003, the Heat had only won 25 games the prior year. With Odom in the power forward spot he became an up-and-coming star, averaging 17 points per game with 9.7 rebounds. After opening the season losing seven games in a row, Odom helped turn things around and the Heat made the playoffs before eventually losing in the second round.

The Miami Heat era showed the essence of how good Odom was. Do you realize how much complaining players do about playing the power forward spot (i.e. Paul George)? Lamar could play any position on the floor and play it well. There were times when Odom could slide over and handle the ball as a point forward. At the time, with a young Dwyane Wade and Caron Butler, he was the glue that held that Heat team together, along with veteran Eddie Jones. Odom played well enough to catch the interest of the Los Angeles Lakers as they fielded Shaquille O’Neal trade offers, and was the centerpiece of the trade that would bring O’Neal (and a championship) to Miami in 2004.

The Los Angeles Lakers era showed the essence of what Odom was about: the team. When Pau Gasol was brought into the fold via trade, Odom was relegated to the bench. Odom was not initially content with his new role, and let it be known at the time. However, he adjusted and trusted the “Zen Master”, Phil Jackson, and his methods. It ultimately paid off, as the Lakers went on to win the first of their back-to-back titles. In between those title seasons, the Miami Heat wanted him back, but despite pleas from Dwyane Wade, he stayed with his L.A. teammates to win his second-consecutive title in 2010. The next year, Odom became the only Lakers player in history to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. Not bad for a guy that did not want to come off the bench.

Lamar Odom was part of the DNA of what Jerry Colangelo now implements in the Team USA program. He was involved with the bronze medal fiasco in 2004, yet he was invited back in 2006, 2007 (he declined due to the loss of his son in 2006 and injury in 2007), and 2010. In 2010, he served as a mentor to the young players while playing CENTER for the tournament and led the team in rebounding as the first player to win NBA and FIBA titles in the same year.

I feel that Lamar Odom was wounded a little deeper than the “disrespect” he felt in being part of a vetoed trade to the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul. At that point, even though none of us knew it at the time, Odom’s career was over. He never recovered, and was absolutely awful in Dallas. How awful? There is an unwritten rule in Dallas about players behaving badly. After Cuban sent Odom home and listed him inactive during the 2012 season, it got out that there was a clash between Odom and Cuban.

Does this remind anyone of how Rajon Rondo disappeared from Dallas during the playoffs? As an Odom fan, I knew that “back injury” Rondo supposedly had was a crock.

When Phil Jackson waived him in New York, deep down I knew that Lamar Odom was in trouble. Reportedly, he didn’t even show up to work out. For Jackson to dismiss him after their history together told me that Odom was done with the game of basketball. It hurt because the Knicks could have used him in that mentor role to which he was so effective. If Odom was clean, he could easily contribute to the New York Knicks bench.

The biggest tragedy is to look at the E! channel and see Lamar Odom’s story at the bottom ticker every 15 minutes. If Lamar Odom somehow does not survive, and I pray to God that he does, he should be remembered for his great accomplishments to the game of basketball, and for his versatility and sacrifices as a two-time NBA champion and gold medalist, and not for his reality show exploits or the shadow of his celebrity.

A damn shame.

The staff of Brooklyn Finest send their thoughts and prayers out to Lamar Odom and his family.