For the first game of the season, we at Nets Are Scorching will be hosting a live chat to discuss the game with you - our awesome, loyal reader. Chat will start at 6:30 and go until after the game ends. Come on by during game time and chat with us!
With the start of the season barely 24 hours away, I thought it would be a good time to reach out to the people who follow the Nets to get their projections for the team. Yes, it's Nets Are Scorching's annual over/under social mixer, bringing beat writers, bloggers and everyone in between together.
Rules are simple - I conjured up 10 random questions about this season and participants have responded with either "over" or "under" as their projection.
We have a special list of participants this year, including returning champion Al Iannazzone of The Record, and two new Nets beat writers, Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger and Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. Meanwhile, joining us from the general NBA blogosphere is Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie and Zach Lowe of new Sports Illustrated blog, The Point Forward. Just to show that the NAS team isn't afraid to give their own opinions, Dennis Velasco, Devin Kharpertian and Justin DeFeo have joined in with the projections.
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As we get ready to start some real basketball, the focus turns directly to Brook Lopez, who Avery Johnson has praised continually this off-season. Al Iannazzone talks to Avery about the plan for Brook and how the Nets are going to (hopefully) get him the 4th quarter touches he never seemed to get last season:
Johnson couldn't stand seeing film of Lopez being pushed off the low block last season. He has Lopez in the gym early some days for extra lifting and strength exercises. Johnson wants Lopez to stand his ground, power over people and dunk more and also make his presence felt on defense.
"He can be a special player," Johnson said. "He can be a special center. Not many centers have the whole package. But he's going to have set himself apart in the fourth quarter of games. When we can throw him the ball in the fourth quarter and he can keep his position and score against single and double coverage and make the right passes when necessary and block shots at the end of games and rebound, that's when he'll really start to elevate himself."
There was nothing more frustrating last season than watching Brook Lopez have a monster first half and then disappear in the second. While some of that is obviously on Brook, the team, who clearly lacked any kind of cohesive coaching under Kiki Vandeweghe, seemed to move away from what was working without a legitimate reason. If Avery finds a way to correct this, it's going to give the Nets an additional 5 or 6 wins without even trying in my humble estimation.
Weight: 220 lbs.
Birth Date: June 28, 1987
Birth Place: Seattle, WA
Drafted: 11th pick of the 1st Round in 2009 by the New Jersey Nets
To put it bluntly there is not much that Terrence Williams can't do on the offensive side of the floor. He is one of those guys that brings a lot to the table and as long as he can play under control, he should have a great future ahead of him. In just 22 minutes per game last season, T-Will averaged 8.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. If you project those numbers over 30-35 minutes per game instead of 22, you will have a very productive player on your team. One of the best things about Williams is his versatility. He's 6'6'' but can handle the ball like a point guard and his athleticism is through the roof. Last season he showed Nets fans plenty of highlight dunks and there will only be more to come this year.
The most positive thing I've seen from Williams in the preseason is his improved shooting stroke. He clearly put in a lot of work over the summer and I think it will pay off this season. The only thing that T-Will needs to be careful of is overshooting and not distributing the ball. He's averaged over 13 points per game in the preseason but has done so while taking a lot field goal attempts. Williams has all the offensive talent in the world to score, rebound and dish the ball, and as long as he limits his turnovers and plays unselfishly he should be a major offensive force for this team.
Say what you want about Rod Thorn and his abrupt decision to leave the Nets, but the guy can evaluate talent. When the team drafted Williams in 2009 one of the main things they liked about his game was his defense. After playing in the Big East for four years at Louisville, T-Will got the reputation as one of the better defensive players in the conference. With his size and athleticism he can body up bigger players while also having the quickness to stay in front of them. He did not make a huge impact on the defensive end in his rookie season but I expect that to change in 2010-11. With a player like Williams defense comes down to effort. If he puts as much effort into his defense as he has with his shooting stroke, he could be the defensive stopper that the Nets will desperately need.
T-Will changed his number from 8 to 1 this season. In college he said he wore number 1 because he "wants to be the ONE." He is a bit of a shoe junkie, as he owned over 130 pairs of sneakers at the University of Louisville, and has plenty more now. Williams' updates his twitter account, TheRealTWill, on a daily basis and has almost 25,000 followers.
Terrence Williams should be ready for a breakout season in 2010-11. He showed signs of greatness last season and should see a lot more playing time this year. While he won't begin the year in the starting lineup, I would not be surprised at all if he cracks the starting 5 by the middle of the season. The biggest concern for T-Will is going to be playing in control on the offensive end. Turnovers have been a problem for him at times and he needs to make sure he has good shot selection and doesn't force it. It may be a bit bold but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Williams contend for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award this season.
More on T-Will:
Coach Avery Johnson noticed there was just something "off" about the looks on the faces of Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow after their first few games at the Prudential Center this preseason. The solution is a practice session this week at the Nets new arena, in hopes of getting the Nets imported shooters used to their new surroundings. Think this is a case of some scapegoating? Maybe not according to one expert interviewed by the Star-Ledger's Conor Orr:
“Visual ability, especially as far as eyes working together and localization and depth perception, are learned, developed abilities,” Gary Etting, a developmental optometrist who deals in sport-related issues, said. “They have their home court, they’re comfortable, they know where the scorers table is, they know where the bench is, they have a real sense of where that basket is. They go into a new place and for a lot of these people it’s a distraction, and it makes it a lot more difficult to orient themselves and localize where things are.”
I think this is a great idea by Avery. Of course, the Prudential Center is going to present something "new" to every team that passes through, but the Nets need to be able to establish a home court advantage early on this season, and it's good to see the team is trying everything to get themselves going in the right direction.
In the spirit of "It's All New," we at Nets Are Scorching decided it was the perfect time to spruce things up a bit around here. As you'll notice, we've completely changed the design.
Along with some smaller, subtle tweaks, here are some things you may notice:
Brand new banner. Up top, you'll see we've changed the way our site looks completely from the top down.
Disqus Comment System. We're pretty big fans of Disqus, which allows you now to reply directly as well as "like" other comments - this way you can have more of a direct conversation with other readers! We at Nets Are Scorching always encourage open and constructive dialogue, and we felt like Disqus was the best way to do that for you guys.
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Podcast. This isn't quite here yet, but expect the first Nets Are Scorching Podcast in the "It's All New" era to be put up later today.
A generally much sleeker look. To make sure we provide the best content & analysis on all things New Jersey Nets, we wanted to make it as simple to read as possible. There will probably be a few small tweaks as time goes on, but we feel that with the new look, our site is much cleaner & easier to read.
Welcome to the new digs!
The theme of the Saturday/Sunday Nets coverage is new head coach Avery Johnson, and what his presence has meant for an organization coming off perhaps their worst season in history. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix captures what Avery is doing the second time around:
Indeed, in his second coaching stint, Johnson has evolved. The tough love is still there and throughout camp, players received an earful of Johnson's high-pitched Southern twang. But for a team that has known nothing but negativity, running a boot camp can have an adverse effect, a point Johnson drilled home to his staff. "We have to be positive with these guys," Johnson told his coaches. "This team's psyche is fragile. If they get something right, you have to let them know they got it right."
And I can't help but feel motivated by reading about what Avery Johnson has written on the practice facility's walls:
"Defensive FG%=44%," it reads above the locker room entrance, unavoidable to players going through their daily practice routines.
"Details. Discipline. Decisions. Determination," are the words on the other side of the gym.
"Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance" reads another order.
Adjacent to that, "Get Better."
Of all the moves the Nets made this off-season, none may be more important than Avery. While I was not shocked that the Nets struggled last season, I never expected them to be a 12-win team and I believe a lot of that tied into coaching. Lawrence Frank, a good guy, had be tuned out before last season and is probably doing now what's he's most apt to do, which is assist on a good team rather than lead a bad one. And let's not even get started on Kiki Vandeweghe, who had no business coaching a team and seemed more interested in getting his buddy Del Harris set up with the HC spot than doing a worthwhile job of his own. From my perspective, Avery needs at least a few years here without too much criticism as I really believe he has what it takes to build a system that will help lay the foundation for the turnaround of this organization.
Let's start with some trade talk - yes the Nets and Nuggets are still talking, but nothing is imminent per GM Billy King.
“You just talk, you just talk and that’s how you get deals done,” King said. “Sometimes you lose games, they change their opinion on your roster ... but what I found, the more you’re just persistent and keep talking and keep the lines of communication open, that’s how you get a deal done.”
Meanwhile, for those who think that Carmelo Anthony is better served financially by signing an extension with Denver or another team this season after a trade, Ken Berger of CBS says, think again:
Maybe that is why a person familiar with Anthony's strategy told me that Melo is fully prepared to spend the entire season in Denver without signing an extension and then take his chances under the new deal.
"Carmelo is not afraid to go into next year and test the CBA," the person said.
That seems like a bold statement, but in a way, maybe it isn't. What would be the point of begrudgingly accepting an extension with a team he doesn't want to play for just to get the money under the current deal when the new deal may very well wipe it out anyway with a rollback?
As for the actual Nets roster, they needed to shed one player to get down to 15 and that player is Brian Zoubek. If you asked me in August who between Zoubek and Ben Uzoh would have made the cut, I would have been fairly certain about Zoubek, but I guess that's why I'm not an NBA GM.
The other big question is who's going to line up as the starting PF on Wednesday night. In a display of good news, injured Troy Murphy looks just about ready to begin practicing with the team. However, Ben Couch says don't be shocked if Kris Humphries gets the call to start on Thursday:
“Humphries was pretty good,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson, after Friday’s practice. “He had his best game this preseason. We’ve tried to identify exactly what we need him to do in this system. I think he clearly understands, and to his credit he went out and executed it. The things we asked him to stay away from doing, he (stayed away from). He and Joe give us a physicality we definitely need.”
I like Hump as a bench player and given the circumstances, he's probably best suited to start the game with the first unit. Joe Smith is a nice story as the veteran sage helping these kids out, but I can't envision a scenario where Smith should be getting many minutes, regardless of the injury situation.
Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Mark, Devin, Evan, Justin, Danny, and myself will answer questions regarding the L.
1) Carmelo Anthony rumors are brewing again and this time, it's alleged that the New York Knicks have skipped over the New Jersey Nets as the favorites. They'd give up Danilo Gallinari and/or Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry's expiring contract, and trade Wilson Chandler for a first round pick to give to the Nuggets. How would this affect the Knicks?
Mark: It would certainly bring a lot of attention back to the Garden, and my guess is Chris Paul would soon be pining to play there too, though I don't know how the Knicks could acquire him with a now bare pantry. Personally, unless the Nets totally back out, I don't see 'Melo going to the Knicks. The Nets could top their best offer and still have assets leftover to try and get one more player.
Devin: It would make them more appealing, definitely. Carmelo is a spotlight kind of guy, and pairing him with Amar'e at the Garden would make James Dolan a lot of money and at least get them from the 7th-seed range where they are now up to the 4th-5th. They'd still need one more piece (like Chris Paul, for instance) to really compete with the biggest and baddest of the NBA, but it would be a step for them - and while losing The Rooster and Wilson Chandler would hurt, Carmelo is a pretty worthwhile prize.
Evan: Over the last 48 hours the Carmelo Anthony rumors have once again heated up, and it now seems as though the likely destination for ‘Melo will be either New York or New Jersey. There is no doubt that he wants to play in this area, and while he initially didn’t seem to want to be in Jersey, he may have changed his mind on the Garden State and the Nets. If this proposed deal between the Nuggets and Knicks went through, the Nets’ biggest rival would immediately become a playoff team. Raymond Felton, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo would be quite a nucleus and as much as I hate to say it, the Knicks would once again be very relevant. That’s why I think the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes are very important in terms of the pecking order between the Knicks and Nets. Don’t get me wrong, the Nets should not overpay just to get him and need to make a smart deal, but if they were able to get ‘Melo and keep him away from the Knicks, that would greatly help their standing in the tri-state area.
Justin: While I don't give much weight to the allegations of the Knicks being the new frontrunners, not with the latest reports out at least, let's live in hypothetical world for a moment and say this trade does indeed go through. First of all, that and/or is a big factor in this deal. If its Gallinari or Randolph, whichever one of those two remains would give the Knicks Stoudemire, Carmelo and either Gallinari or Randolph which to me would be an improvement upon what the Knicks have now and would certainly put them in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. If the trade becomes Gallinari and Randolph, well now you're losing two of big time talents and the team is going to have to very heavily rely on the talents of Stoudemire and Melo as what would be left on the Knicks roster would be a collection of role players. The big key here in my opinion is Gallinari. I think he's already a good player and has the potential of being a multi time all-star. If the Knicks can somehow swing a deal for Anthony and still manage to keep Gallinari, they would have a nice roster. As far as the other stuff goes, the draft picks, cap space, even a young asset like Wilson Chandler, to me don't matter. The Knicks are not a team that is going to attempt to rebuild through the draft anyway. Making this deal would then put them in great position to make a serious run at Chris Paul. Now, before I get sick to my stomach let's come back out of hypothetical world, and let's trust the latest reports from David Aldridge and Chris Broussard who both report the Nets are still the front runners for Anthony and not the Knicks.
Danny: While it seems to me that the Nets still have the lead in the Carmelo Anthony deliberations, if the Knicks had to give up Gallinari, Randolph, Chandler, and a first-round pick to get him, it wouldn't put them any better than fifth in the Eastern Conference. While they would be immensely talented and entertaining at the forward spots with him and Amar'e Stoudemire, and decent at point guard with Raymond Felton, they'd be bare at the pother two positions — save the development of Timofey Mozgov into a legitimate NBA center. Even if everything went great, they'd still finish behind the Heat, Celtics, Magic, and Bulls.... MORE →