With the first day of training camp in the books, the media really focused on the defensive end today. Right now though, I want to talk about some stuff that kind of got buried under the Mikhail Prokhorov happenings, and that is how Rod and Lawrence Frank think the offense will break down this year. After sitting in on a breakfast meeting with Rod Thorn and Coach Frank, Ben Couch hits us with this:
So with the roster likely to remain the same, the question becomes one of maximizing personnel. That means playing a faster game this season, in an attempt to utilize speedy, über-athletic wings and bigs who can run, hopefully providing easy buckets in transition. But that means an improved focus on the defensive end, where the team should be able to take advantage of additions like Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams.
They'll join Jarvis Hayes, who was the team's best perimeter defender last season, and Harris, who earned a reputation as a strong defender in Dallas, though most of his energy has been expended on offense since coming to New Jersey. While the perimeter talent is notable, interior defense and rebounding will be key to the endeavor. Natural improvement from second-year center Brook Lopez (8.1 RPG, 1.84 BPG) should provide a strong base, but strong efforts from players like Yi Jianlian and Josh Boone are crucial to the defense's success.
Ben got this vibe after talking with both Rod and Lawrence Frank, so there is a reason to take this as the truth, and boy does it get me excited. When I picture the offense for this year, I see what the Golden State Warriors are trying to do, except better.
Let me explain, the Warriors love to run up and down the court and score like crazy, but they play no defense. At times it doesn't even look like they are trying to play defense. The Nets on the other hand are looking to run and gun this year too, but they have guys who are willing to get stops on the offensive end. Let's look at a lineup I think could get a lot of time this year (hopefully it will become the starting lineup):
- PG - Devin Harris
- SG - Courtney Lee
- SF - Terrence Williams
- PF - Yi
- C - Brook Lopez
All these guys with maybe the exception of Yi and Devin are above average defenders. That isn't what gets me excited though, look at that line-up one more times. There are three guys that I am comfortable with bringing the ball up and playing the point. Four of those guys can run the court as good as any for their position.
Allow me to dream for a moment. Let's say that Brook rebounds the basketball, with three guys who can run the point, he doesn't need to find Devin Harris for an outlet, all he has to do is get it to the guy closest to him. This gets the ball in the hands of a ball-handler much quicker and leads to more fast breaks. So lets go back to this dream...Brook gets the rebound and gets it to the man standing right next to him...it happens to be Terrence Williams this time. Devin, Courtney, and Yi fill lanes as Terrence starts the fast break, if there is an opportunity to score on the break we take advantage of it. If not Terrence being able to run point effectively slows it down, and they start to run the offense (with Devin sliding in at the two and Courtney handling the 3 spot) as Brook catches up with the guys. Next time down it could be Courtney or Devin. This isn't even taking into consideration that Terrence Williams rebounds great for his position, and that he can just rebound the ball, turn, and go. No outlet needed, and when you can eliminate the need for an outlet, it allows you to start the fast break so much quicker.
Having three guys (four when you count CDR who was working on his PG skills this summer during workouts) who can interchange positions on the fly is an incredible advantage, especially when you are trying to run an uptempo type offense. There is no need to situate yourself in a fixed position, you can just fill in lanes and go. Also, if the break doesn't develop and there is a need to run the offense, there is no need to find Devin to start it since you have 3 (4) guys able to start the offense.
Thinking about this possibility gets me so excited, and while it may not happen at first (rookies don't really get too much time early on under coach Frank - see Brook last year for an example), once these five get on the court together, look at them to be incredibly effective and fun to watch.