Limiting the Shots of (Jarrett) Jack

The demise of the Brooklyn Nets has been greatly exaggerated. Okay, maybe it hasn’t, but the Nets have won four straight home games and are playing well as of late. How well, you ask? The Nets are no longer the laughingstock of the NBA. Before Thanksgiving, the Nets really put out a turkey performance in Boston, getting smacked 120-95. What made it worse, the Boston faithful gave out some dressing, chanting “Thank you Brooklyn!” and “Brooklyn draft picks!” to close the game. A lot of writers (myself included) thought that the end was near for this franchise. The Kevin Garnett trade was dissected from pillar to post after the game, further shining light on the chaos.

Then something happened.

The Brooklyn Nets came back to the Barclays Center and beat the Boston Celtics to save face (and even more scrutiny) and start a small stretch of watchable basketball over the last week. Now even Bill Simmons is making changes in his vision on the Boston Celtics vision on how to use Brooklyn’s draft pick on Twitter…

“I’m giving up on Brooklyn being the NBA’s worst team. The dream is dead. Time to flip  that Nets pick and another 1st plus D-Lee for Boogle.”

That is a huge statement. The Nets are now far from being the worst team in the NBA. That belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers. If you have a west coast flavor of “FUNK”, you can go with the Los Angeles Lakers.

But there is a huge reason why the Brooklyn Nets are improving as of late…

Wait for it. Wait for it…

Jarrett Jack.

I know what you are thinking. You mean the dude that plays point guard? Number two? The guy that brings the ball up and shoots fadeaway jumpers a lot. Capricorn?

I could say that I’m writing this because our Editor-In-Chief, Paul Mitchell, knows how much I can’t stand watching this dude play and wanted to see if I could say something nice about Jarrett Jack. However, this is an easy piece. Jarrett Jack has evolved into a more efficient player these days. I think the evolution started in the loss to Golden State.

As of this writing, the Warriors are sporting a 20-0 record, extending their record start. The Brooklyn Nets are the only team that had the champs dead to rights. Sure, Thaddeus Young took polaroid pictures of Andre Iguodala hitting a game tying three-pointer to send it into overtime. Sure, Brook Lopez missed a two foot layup at the buzzer.

It was Jack’s gaffe that really hurt.

Jarrett Jack scored a ton in the game. Everyone knew he was taking a challenge to outshine Stephen Curry, although it would ultimately cost the team in the end. With less than 45 seconds left in the game, Curry missed a layup. Instead of passing the ball ahead, Jack held on to the ball looking to get fouled. Instead, he got a eight second call.

This has been Jarrett Jack’s problem all season until recently. Lionel Hollins needed Jack to stabilize an offense that was barely good enough to beat a D-league team and get the cornerstones of the franchise, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, involved early and often.

What Hollins and the Nets got was a shoot-first point guard who shot in the low-40 percent range that turned the ball over and played no defense.

For now, those days are limited.

Looking at the last game against Phoenix, Jarrett Jack scored 11 points on 4/11 shooting. He was the only starter not named Brook Lopez to  score in double figures. But here’s the caveat. He had four rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. He played an outstanding floor game. Something that has been few and far in between for the Nets this season.

Looking forward, I would like the Nets fans for the rest of the season to pay attention to Jarrett Jack’s floor game and not his points. Check the box score and check out how many shots Jarrett Jack takes and then check Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. Jack took 11 shots in the Phoenix game. Brook Lopez had 20. With Tyson Chandler sidelined for Phoenix, it would stand to reason that Lopez has a total matchup advantage over Alex Len. Well, Lopez took full advantage, dominating the game to the tune of 23 points.

With Lopez dominating the middle, it opened up plenty of opportunities for the rest of the Nets. Rondae Hollis Jefferson shot 4/5 from the field. There are nights when he can’t accomplish that in a empty gym. Remember Wayne Ellington? Yeah, that dude. He shot 5/7 from the field. As a team the Nets shot 48.8% for the game.

What does this mean? If Jarrett Jack is taking anything over 15 shots per game, the Nets are in trouble. Why? If Jack is firing away, Lopez is rendered ineffective. Lopez is a top-five center in the NBA that commands a double team. Then the shooters have an opportunity to space the floor. No shooter on the Nets can get their own shot (including Joe Johnson). Lopez is the key to opening up the Brooklyn offense. Just recently, Jarrett Jack has figured that out.

During the Nets’ current patch of games played, you will not find Jarrett Jack throwing up 20 shots a game. It is around the 11-12 shot range. Some of it I feel may have  something to do with the play of Shane Larkin, who is becoming invaluable off the bench. But you still have to give credit to Jarrett Jack for making adjustments, nonetheless.