With the NBA season fast approaching, I figured I'd throw my two cents in on how I see things playing out. These projections were created using Wins Produced (WP) from the Wages of Wins Journal and The NBA Geek. To gauge how rookies and incoming international players perform, I used the amazing projections of Arturo Galletti. If you haven't read any of that stuff, you should. I march on with the disappointing Brooklyn Nets. Enjoy.
Brooklyn Nets 37-45 (5th Atlantic)
TOP NINE PRODUCTION (numbers listed are 2011-12 WP)
|PG Deron Williams||2.5|
|SG Joe Johnson||5.4|
|SF Gerald Wallace||7.4|
|PF Kris Humphries||8.1|
|C Brook Lopez||-0.2|
|F Josh Childress||2.2|
|F/C Reggie Evans||3.1|
|G MarShon Brooks||1|
|G C.J. Watson||0.6|
I touched on this in a previous post, but all of the big-name moves the Nets made this off-season are probably for naught. While Joe Johnson, Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, and C.J. Watson are certainly improvements over the players they are replacing, going from bad to average is not a crucial step toward contention. The crux of many arguments for the success of this wild, expensive experiment is that Deron Williams will finally return to his MVP-level Utah self, but I'm not so sure that happens.
While a member of the Jazz, Williams was an attacking menace of a point guard, using his size and quickness to bully his way into the lane. At his zenith, Williams was shooting nearly 5 shots per game at the rim and converting on over 60% of those attempts. He was at the top of the league among points guards at converting and-1's, and his True Shooting % was consistently in the upper 50's. From 2007-10, he averaged 11.8 WP per season, and there was a strong argument to be made that he was the best point guard in the league.
Since becoming a Net, however, Williams has transformed into a completely different player. His attempts at the rim have dipped below 4 per game, while his 3 point attempts have soared to over 6 per game (which isn't exactly appropriate when only 1 in 3 of those jacks is going in). He's turned the ball over more than he ever had since coming to the East Coast, and his defense--while never his strong suit--has become a liability. Granted, all of these things can be attributed to the lack of talent around him, but I'm not so sure the talent that is now present is going to change things all that much.
Johnson, the centerpiece of the Nets new acquisitions and reportedly the reason Williams chose to re-up in Brooklyn, is hardly the elixir Williams needs. A Ray Allen-type drawing defenses out of the paint would be ideal to returning Williams to his previous heights, and, while Johnson has good range beyond the arc, he is also a notorious iso-hog who is going to turn Williams into the spot-up shooter. Instead of either opening up shots for his backcourt-mate, I instead envision the two taking turns dribbling the shot clock down at the top of the key while their teammates stand around.
Kris Humphries and--to a lesser extent--Gerald Wallace don't really even want the ball on offense, instead contenting themselves with garbage points off offensive rebounds and slashes to the hoop. Both of these qualities are admirable, but, again, they don't really lend themselves to helping Williams return to elite status. Brook Lopez, on the other hand, needs to score to have any value what-so-ever, since he rebounds at a pathetic rate and is a sink hole on defense. Whether or not the Nets will find time to look for Lopez on the block between Williams and Johnson going 5-on-1 and Wallace knifing through the lane is up for debate. The max deal doled out to Lopez just, I don't know, because makes Johnson's albatross deal look like a bargain. What Lopez has done to garner a 4 year contract attached to any dollar amount eludes me, let alone such a commitment worth nearly $61 million.
The low-end signings the Nets brought in are a mixed bag. Reggie Evans will provide 15-20 minutes of bruising efficiency (stemming largely from the fact that we knows he can't shoot and so will not shoot), while Josh Childress was sneaky productive in Phoenix last year. Childress will be hard-pressed to match that production as he now finds himself behind Johnson and Wallace, who both typically play heavy minutes. C.J. Watson is barely passable as an NBA player, and the Nets probably would have been better served giving rookie Tyshawn Taylor a shot as Williams's backup (although, to be fair, Taylor does project as one of the worst rookies this season). European big man Mirza Teletovic was lured over to perhaps provide Ryan Anderson-like production off the bench, but the projections see Brian Skinner-like production instead. Andray Blatche was brought in for the NBA hipsters in Brooklyn to blog about, I guess, since he has no business on an NBA roster. MarShon Brooks will probably see his raw numbers drop as actual NBA players are on the roster to take shots, but his efficiency should continue to hover just below league average.
Add it all up, and you have an unusual roster with a style that is hard to pin down. The Nets find themselves sort of in-between on offense, too old to run, and too bad at shooting to be a dynamite half-court team. That leaves defense to carry Brooklyn to the post-season in their inaugural season in their new home, but with Lopez providing a fat zero in the middle, Humphries struggling with knowing where he is on the court, and Williams saving himself for his chuck-a-thon vs. Johnson on the other end, I don't see an elite defense here, despite the best efforts of Gerald Wallace. In the first year of a four-year commitment to this collection, the Nets find themselves outside of the playoffs, with little hope for significant improvement down the line.