Monday, November 30, 2009

Above the Rim: 0-17 and Counting

Will the Nets pass the Clippers and go to 0-18? The Clippers are always just assumed to be the worst no matter what record for futility you talk about, but the Nets are on the verge of taking one off of their hands. After getting crushed by the Lakers last night, 106-87, the Nets have tied the Clippers and will see if they can break the record for worst losing streak to start a season on Wednesday at home against a good Dallas Mavericks team.

Are the Nets this bad or have they just caught some bad luck? Looking at their roster, they do have some pieces in the place for the future. Point guard Devin Harris was an all-star last season when he averaged 21.3 points and 6.9 assists per game. This year, he has 15.3 points and 5.7 assists per game, but he has only played 6 games due to injuries early. Second year center Brook Lopez looks like he may join Harris as an all-star in the near future. The big man from Stanford is following up a solid rookie season by averaging 17.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, all leading the team. Chris Douglas-Roberts, another second year player, should be a solid starter for the Nets. This season, the wing has averaged 17.2 points, second on the team, and has added 5.3 rebounds and 1.15 steals. That gives the Nets three young, solid starters to build around. Rookie Terrence Williams has also shown that he is capable of playing in the NBA. Williams is averaging 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, mostly off the bench. Other Nets that should be contributors in the future are guard Courtney Lee and power forward Josh Boone. Lee was a rookie for the Magic last year and came to the Nets in the Vince Carter trade. Last season with Orlando, he showed that he can be a capable starter or a solid bench player for a good team in the NBA, and he is averaging 8.7 points this season for the Nets. Boone provides rebounding and physical defense in the paint, but he is probably better suited to coming off the bench. Offense is usually a bonus with Boone, but he is averaging 5.8 rebounds and .56 blocks to go with 4.6 points as both a starter and a reserve this season.

The problem with the Nets is the inexperience and inconsistency of these young players and a lack of veterans to steady the team until the young guys develop. Rafer Alston is a solid player, but he played above his head last year for Orlando. Ideally, he would be a back-up point guard and a sharp-shooter off the bench, but he has started 13 games this season. The same goes for Trenton Hassell. Hassell has been a solid bench player in this league for years, but he has started 11 of 12 games this season. While averaging 9.9 and 8.8 points per game, respectively, these two would be better utilized if they had smaller roles and could focus on that job. Another veteran, Bobby Simmons, is a decent bench player, but he has been declining for the last five seasons since winning the Most Improved Player award for the Clippers. Yi Jianlian has been a bust since day 1 in the NBA and is dead weight on the roster at this point.

The Nets could develop as the year goes on and be respectable by the end of the season, but they are probably at least a year or two away from pushing for a .500 record. In the meantime, they need to snap this losing streak and get a win under their belt. With the young team they have, that may take a lot of pressure of them and they could quickly improve. While the Nets are 0-17, they are not as bad as the record indicates. Look for them to approve throughout the season as the gain experience. With a few off-season acquisitions, this team could be a dangerous 7 or 8 seed next season.





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