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What do you know about your Brooklyn Nets' coaching staff? If your answer is “not much,” you’ve come to the right place.
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The BrooklyKnight was always doomed.
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Preseason officially kicked off this past week, with the Nets winning each of their first two exhibitions against Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Sacramento Kings. They've got four more games and under three weeks until the start of the regular season.

They've undergone an exhausting journey since Wednesday, flying from New Jersey to Shanghai to Beijing as a part of the NBA's Global Games initiative. They've got plans to go sightseeing tomorrow, but the trip has left some players wanting to spend their time recuperating. "Man, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm probably going to be sleeping," Joe Johnson joked about the trip.

But for some, the journey isn't about promoting the NBA's global brand: it's just about sticking around at all.
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Reigning NBA MVP and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot and will require surgery, the Thunder announced today. The Thunder did not give a specific timetable for Durant's return, citing a typical recovery time of six to eight weeks.

The injury will rule Durant out of the Brooklyn Nets home opener on November 3rd, and barring a speedy recovery, also likely means he won't play against the Nets on November 22nd, the only two games the two teams play this year.

Durant has led the NBA in scoring for five consecutive seasons, averaging 29.3 points per game in that span and a career-high 32 points per game last season.

 

In a tightly contested game, the Nets struck final blood thanks to a big late shot by Mirza Teletovic, beating the Sacramento Kings 97-95 in Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena in the first of two preseason NBA Global Games in China.

With the lead waffling back and forth, Mirza Teletovic hit a three-pointer with 56.2 seconds left, putting them up for good. Four Nets scored in double figures, led by Brook Lopez, who finished with 18 points on 6-13 shooting in 25 minutes.

Assistant Paul Westphal coached in place of Lionel Hollins, who sat out with an undisclosed illness.

Preseason is never an indicator of future success in any statistical sense. Teams are too busy tinkering with different lineups and looks. Players spend the time re-acclimating to NBA speed, particularly players coming back from injury. But while little of what you'll see in the box score is reflective of what you'll see in the regular season, it can sometimes be an indicator of different playing styles and comfort levels.

Some notes on the night:
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We've released our in-depth player previews of all 15 Brooklyn Nets players (not including non-drafted camp signees). Check them out below!

Start Here: Brook Lopez

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

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eqAOzPW
Height: 6'13"11"
Weight: 250 lbs.
Date of Birth: May 19, 1976
Years Pro: 19
Before NBA: Farragut Academy High School (Illinois)
Drafted:
Nickname: The Big Ticket, KG

- Full Stats -

No longer just the great communicator on the court in the final stage of his career, Kevin Garnett has evolved into the NBA's sage luminary, weaving verbal mosaics about the importance of hard work and communication with stories from his 19 years as a professional athlete. Impossible to predict, difficult to decipher, and magnetic in elocution, Garnett speaks in clouded metaphors, likening milk-chugging to ball-handling and Joe Johnson to Jesus Christ, while peppering in meaningful anecdotes about any one of his hundreds of teammates and former coaches.

He screams at teammates and opponents with reckless abandon, curses himself in practice, and once he's gathered himself to speak with the press, conveys a thoughtfulness equally revealing and distancing. He even makes comparing his jump shot to a booty call sound like modern philosophy. He's back to live and die by every possession for one more year.

Though he hasn't committed to anything beyond this season, it's most likely Garnett's farewell tour, with $12 million left on his NBA contract and close to 55,000 minutes on his career odometer (including playoffs). He mulled retirement after the 2012-13 season before agreeing to play one more year in Brooklyn, then decide to stick it out for the rest of the season.

"I prepared myself this offseason, like I (always) have," Garnett mused early in training camp. "Not last year, because I was indecisive about what I wanted to do...this year I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I did that throughout the whole summer. So I'm in better spirits because I know what I'm here to do this year."

"I'm here to enjoy this. You never know when it's going to be your last."

There's nothing about Kevin Garnett's on-court game that hasn't been chronicled in a thousand places. He's got one of the best mid-range jumpers in the league and a keen eye for floor space on the offensive end. You won't see him put the ball on the floor, but he'll set screens, hit turnaround jumpers, and throw down the occasional open dunk.

While he goes out of his way to say he's not a "primary" option on the team, that's only on the offensive side of the floor; the Nets played at an elite level defensively with him manning the middle, and posted a defensive rating better than any NBA team with him on the floor in the calendar year 2014, thanks to his still-nimble feet inside, his constant barking at teammates, and opponents' aversion to attacking the basket with him in the lane.

By name alone, Garnett's earned the right from Nets coach Lionel Hollins to be the team's starting power forward, despite playing more effectively at center last season. Though Jason Kidd only played Garnett 20.5 minutes per game last season and often no longer than five-minute spurts, Hollins says he plans to play Garnett much longer than that.

He came through on that promise early, sending Garnett out for a stretch of 7:15 to open up the first preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv. It won't be the last time he plays that long this season... though it might be the last time he plays at all.

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Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Alex Mazer Comments

 

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Mason Plumlee on Twitter
Height: 6"11"
Weight: 235 lbs.
Date of Birth: March 5, 1990
Years Pro: 1
Before NBA: Duke University
Drafted: 22nd overall, 2013 NBA Draft
Nickname: Mase, Plums
- Full Stats -

Mason Alexander "Plumdog Millionaire Plummer American Hero Wilt Shaquille Russell Hakeem Abdul-" Plumlee hits the ground running for his second year in the league.

Plumlee is no average sophomore. He was given an opportunity with Team USA and savored it. The Nets are now giving him a similar opportunity, electing not to bring back fan favorite Andray Blatche.

Plumlee has seen where his efforts have taken him this summer with Team USA, and that driven mentality will have to translate over to Brooklyn.

What the Nets are getting in Plumlee is a type of player that once he reaches his full form, could be the future star that Team USA Manager Jerry Colangelo keeps alluding to. Brooklyn had Reggie Evans on the glass, and Brook Lopez scoring the ball, but hasn't had a player that could do both efficiently around the rim. Kevin Garnett once was that, with some extra range, but Father Time's knocking on his door. Could Plumlee?

Everyone remembers Plumlee's show-stopping dunks, possibly all 116 of them, but his rebounding cannot go overlooked. Mason tallied a defensive rebounding percentage of 19.6% last season, trailing only Garnett and Blatche by a sliver.

Add defense into that category as well: Plumlee tallied the highest block percentage on the roster, turning back 3.6 percent of opposing shots. That's not a show-stopping number, but it's one he can build on, and he'll have Garnett around for at least one more year to show him the ropes. He certainly doesn't lack for blocking confidence.

The experience that Plumlee gained from his Team USA summer is priceless. No one else can say that they spent their summer averaging 18 and 5 in the Orlando Summer League and put up 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 steals in 26.4 minutes over the course of 3 exhibition games as a member of Team USA.

Plumlee spent his rookie year in the same locker room of two future Hall of Famers (Pierce & Garnett), while being coached by another one (Kidd). Now, he was given the opportunity to train with and compete against with some of the best basketball players on the planet for over a month. You'd have to guess he picked the brain of some of his now peers and drew out some life lessons that'll lead to even more improvements in the NBA.

Physically, there's still room to grow: adding a few pounds of muscle to bulk up his 235-pound frame wouldn't hurt.

Aside from that, Plumlee needs to develop a mid-range jumper. It's no question that every team would love to have a DeAndre Jordan of their own in the middle capitalizing on his teammates mistakes, but there's still a fine line that Plumlee needs to cross. He's made a living within 3 feet from the hoop, but 33.3 percent shooting from 3 to 10 feet won't fly next season, and Plumlee didn't make any shots beyond that last year.

Plumlee's worked on his 8-12 foot hook shot during Team USA practices and even attempted a few during games, making it reasonable to expect him to be comfortable playing a few steps back next year.

Lionel Hollins should just about handle the rest. As long as he's willing to learn and work hard, Hollins should be able to develop him well.

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Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments

 

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teletovic laughMirza Teletovic on Twitter
Height: 6'9"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Date of Birth: September 17, 1985
Years Pro: 2
Before NBA: Caja Laboral Baskonia (Spain)
Drafted: Undrafted
Nickname: MT3, Fearza
- Full Stats -

It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Brooklyn Nets Bosnian import. The 6'9" Teletovic came stateside for the 2013-14 season as a celebrated Euroleague player, and figured to challenge for the starting power forward spot in Brooklyn. Neither Nets coach Avery Johnson, nor interim successor P.J. Carlesimo, saw it this way, and Teletovic only played 9.4 minutes per game in just 53 games.

It didn't help that when the Nets actually did #FreeMirza, he did things like airball three straight shots in front of a Bosnian-rich crowd in Detroit. 

Conversely, 2014-15 saw Fearza enter the season with little expectations, only to become an important cog in the Nets aging wheel.

The short-lived Jason Kidd regime saw Teletovic’s minutes more than double to 19.4 per in 72 games. For Teletovic, it was a a new lease on life. He splashed the smirk seen 'round the world against King James. He assimilated to Brooklyn life with hipster glasses. He joined Twitter. He went from airballing threes in Detroit to dropping 20 on the Pistons in Brooklyn.

Most importantly, he became the Nets best 3-point shooter not nicknamed after a prominent religious figure. Teletovic improved his three-point shooting to 39%, draining 136 shots from deep.

With starting power forward Kevin Garnett on an inexorable march to AARP membership, and Paul Pierce departing for D.C., Teletovic is poised for an even bigger role as a stretch four for the Nets in 2014-15. Yes, new Nets coach Lionel Hollins ran Grizzlies teams predicated on post play and defense, neither of which are Teletovic’s strong suits. But in his opening presser, Hollins expressed his desire to play a more up-tempo style than the Nets did last year and he noted that he has more shooters in Brooklyn than he did in Memphis. Sounds like a system where Teletovic fits.

To ultimately win over Hollins, Teletovic will need to improve on the defensive end. He'll never have the lateral quickness necessary to guard wings, so he'll have to focus on increasing his strength to become an effective post defender. If this Bosnian interview is any indication,Teletovic will get where he needs to be physically if he sticks to his wife's cooking. 

That interview was given in late August while Teletovic was helping his homeland qualify for EuroBasket 2015, leading Bosnia to a 4-0 record in the second round of qualification as the top scorer in the rounds at 26.3 points per game. Teletovic would have rather played this summer against Nets teammates Mason Plumlee (USA), Jorge Guiterrez (Mexico) and Bosnian native/Croatian national, Bojan Bogdanovic. But Bosnia was denied one of the four wild card spots to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, something Teletovic -- not unsurprisingly -- disagreed with

Teletovic will return stateside a newly minted 27-year-old making $3.4 million in the last year of his contract. I'd like to see him stay longer. He is a useful rotational player, he's entertaining, and the man has no conscience when it comes to hoisting up the rock. Just check his things on YouTube, man. This unwavering fealty in his shot does have its liabilities (see: Detroit, 2013), but it also led him to setting a franchise record for threes in a playoff game with six in a Game 2 loss to Miami in May. 

This Pandora's box of Teletovic was never more apparent than in Philadelphia in April, when Fearza followed up a crunch time three airball with a crunch time three drain job. It was nerve-wracking. It was dramatic. It was the spirit of Bosnia. It was Brooklyn Nets basketball. 

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Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Eddie L. Bolden, Jr. Comments

 

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AP


Cory Jefferson on Twitter
Height: 6'9"
Weight: 220 lbs.
Date of Birth: December 26, 1990
Years Pro: 0
Before NBA: Baylor University
Drafted: 60th overall, 2014 NBA Draft
- Full Stats -

In 2004, the Nets traded a prime Kenyon Martin to the Denver Nuggets for three measly first-round draft picks. Martin had just been voted to his first All-Star Game, and his play flourished alongside Jason Kidd. Since that time, the Nets haven't had anyone with Martin's athleticism and explosiveness at that position. Could Jefferson be just that player?

The Nets acquired Jefferson, a Baylor product, from the San Antonio Spurs with the last pick in the NBA Draft. Standing at 6’9” and weighing 220 pounds, Jefferson is a physical forward with a great mix of athleticism and length to match. Jefferson lacks the bulk seen in most power forwards, but does an excellent job at contesting and blocking shots. During the NBA Combine, Jefferson posted a 37.5” max vertical leap, second-highest out of the six players drafted in his position.

If he makes the team from his non-guaranteed contract, Jefferson will most likely share his minutes alongside Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee, but his potential to succeed is very high. If Jefferson gets minutes, his ability to rebound on both sides of the glass will benefit the Nets, a notoriously bad rebounding team that finished 29th in the league, only ahead of the Miami Heat, and worse with Kevin Garnett off the floor.

During his senior year at Baylor, Jefferson led the Big-12 Conference in total rebounds with 312. Jefferson performed well on the team's Summer League roster, finishing as the team’s leading rebounder with 6.8 rebounds per game in five games played.

Jefferson has a limited post game, but he is a tremendous finisher around the rim and can also hit mid-range shots. During his junior year, Jefferson completed 48.8 percent of his mid-range shots, but saw that number fall to 33 percent during his senior year. He finished the season averaging 13.4 points per game. Jefferson will have to polish his mid-range game if he wants to be considered a viable threat from that area.

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Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

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Brook Lopez, Tony Wroten, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes

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Height: 7'1"
Weight: 275 lbs.
Date of Birth: April 1, 1988
Years Pro: 6
Before NBA: Stanford University
Drafted: 10th overall, 2008 NBA Draft
Nickname: B-Lo, Brookie Monster
- Full Stats -

He's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

It’s been a long and weird offseason for the gargantuan Lopez, who played in just 17 games last season before succumbing to a season-ending foot injury smack in the team’s throes of December despair. But after multiple surgeries and months of unshaven boredom, the doctors have cleared Lopez for contact, and he’s entered training camp without the 15 pounds he gained before last season.

Foot injuries are often a death knell for big men, and the jury’s out on if Lopez is an exception. Here’s what we do know: Lopez has twice broken the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot, which connects the heel to the outermost (pinky) toe,once in 2011 and once last season. He’s had three surgeries on that foot, including one that repaired a screw inserted during the initial surgery that had bent. Lopez also underwent left ankle surgery to tighten the ankle ligaments and repair a torn tendon this past March, following two in-season ankle injuries prior to his foot injury.

Lopez walks a bit bowlegged by nature, which adds more pressure to those outer bones. Nets team doctors performed a special surgery that realigned the bone, designed to balance Lopez and lessen the weight on that bone and reduce the chances of further injury. There’s no guarantees, but it’s a start. Slimming back down to 275 doesn't hurt either.

That’s an awful lot of medical talk before we even get to Lopez the player, who when healthy (there it is again) established himself as the league's premier post scorer, an improving rim protector, and an average-at-best rebounder. The Nets were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Lopez on the floor than off in his 17 games last year, bested only by Deron Williams and Paul Pierce in the same timeframe.

The book on Lopez starts on the block. He's an extraordinarily gifted scorer, often acting as a release valve for the Nets offense when out of options. He's not a great passer, even for a big man, but makes up for it with his ability to score inside and out, with range out to 20 feet and a soft touch. Even as the Nets fell apart last season, he was headed for numerous career highs, including field goal percentage, offensive rating, PER, and true shooting percentage.

But his offense is well-documented. In The Art of a Beautiful Game, 7'4" human and former NBA center Mark Eaton tells author Chris Ballard about his eureka moment as a defender:

…while playing a pickup game at UCLA, Eaton had an epiphany, spurred by some unsolicited advice from a retired Wilt Chamberlain, who was then in his 40s but still running the floor against men half his age. "We had a guy on our team named Rocket Rod Foster, to this day the fastest guy I've ever seen," says Eaton. "He'd get to the basket about the same time that I got to the top of the key. So I was standing there, huffing and puffing, and I felt a large hand on my shoulder. It was Wilt. He said, 'You're never going to catch that man, first of all. Second, it's not your job to catch him. Your job is to guard the basket, then cruise up to half-court to see what's going on. Because if a quick shot goes up, you have to go back." Eaton pauses. "That day, a lightbulb went on. I figured out my niche in basketball. This is my house, the paint. This is where I live."

Lopez comes from the Eaton school of slow big men, evolving into a surprisingly ace on-ball defender and rim protector by employing the same methods. He knows his opponents want into his real estate, and plants himself in the way, daring them to go above or through him. His biggest assets are his wide body and incredible length — he officially measures as an even seven feet tall, which begs the question how tall he'd measure if he stood up — and once he's got a player in his zone he knows to stay close to the basket and let them force a bad shot over his extended arms.

In his 17 games before injury, opponents shot 39.7 percent on shots at the rim on 9.2 attempts per game against Lopez, which would have led the league among similar players had he kept that up throughout the season. (For a comparable player, Roy Hibbert allowed opponents to shoot 41.1 percent on 9.8 attempts per game, the best in the league among qualifying players.)

Even more staggering was Lopez's post defense. In his limited sample of 44 possessions, Lopez only allowed his man to score just six (6!) times, and committed only two fouls, according to mySynergySports's tracking data. That's right: guys trying to post up against Lopez either missed their shot or committed a turnover upwards of 80 percent of the time, ranking him comically ahead of the rest of the NBA. It's a small sample size, and there's no way Lopez could stay that effective for a full season, but it's also a testament to how good he can be…

…on the ball. Because once he's got to move, Lopez has the lateral speed of an alligator; if he's pushed beyond that precious 12-foot radius around the basket to try to cut off guards, the Nets have already lost. And opponents know that too. Most of that has to do with his slow foot speed, which isn't getting much faster after multiple surgeries. In today's athletically evolving NBA, the big man who can't defend block-to-block is rapidly facing extinction, relegating the 26-year-old Lopez a relic to a past generation.

That makes Lopez the biggest test of Lionel Hollins's coaching acumen. How do you integrate Lopez, who seems straight out of 1994 right down to his pre-internet love of comic books, into today's fast-paced league?

He'll bring 20 points a night with his eyes closed.

But can he stop them, too?

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Posted on: October 9th, 2014 by Anthony Pignatti Comments

 

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Andrei Kirilenko

AP


Height: 6'9"
Weight: 235 lbs.
Date of Birth: February 18, 1981
Years Pro: 12
Before NBA: CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Drafted: 24th overall, 1999 NBA Draft
Nickname: AK-47
- Full Stats -

Hey, remember when the league grew suspicious over Andrei Kirilenko’s decision to opt out of his $10.2 million deal with the T-Wolves and sign a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Nets? Me neither.

Even after a league investigation, Kirilenko played (or didn’t play) at a level that wasn’t able to match the value of his discounted contract.

It’s a damn shame Kirilenko wasn’t healthy for more games: the Nets went 30-15 with Kirilenko in and 14-23 when he sat. This summer, AK-47 opted in to the second (and final) year of his deal which will pay him about $3.3 million for the ‘14-’15 season with Brooklyn. Will he be worth it?

Kirilenko's numbers shot down across the board last season, averaging just five points in under 20 minutes per game. What’s also completely unexplainable was his sharp decline in free throw shooting. AK-47 made just 61 of 119 (51.3%) free throws last season, a drop of about 25 percentage points from the previous year. It was clear that it got to his head.

But his box scores don’t do him justice the way they used to.

Kirilenko has his flaws. He can’t hit a jumper outside of 8 feet. He struggled with on-ball defense much of last season. Opposing guards and forwards routinely attacked him off the dribble and got a step or two. I’d like to think his lack of consistency is more due to his lingering back problems he faced as opposed to his declining abilities. A definitive answer to that question probably comes within the first couple weeks.

His basketball IQ is off the charts, his constant effort is palpable, and he makes situationally sound plays. He’s 33 years old, but his contributions in limited time should be enough to get excited to see what a healthy Kirilenko can do over a full season.

​H​e’s not a talented scorer, b​​ut he’s a ton of fun to watch. He sees the game in ways other guys don't. He’s often in the right spot at the right time.

The Nets’ roster last season was very long, with Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston, and Kevin Garnett. With Livingston gone via free agency, Kirilenko’s length becomes that much more important.

Hollins will likely use Kirilenko much more than Kidd. In his minutes, he won’t be asked to score. He’ll provide those “odds-and-ends” type plays that gets the crowd going, frustrates opponents, and wins games.

Andrei Kirilenko (and his hair) was phenomenal at times last season. Some examples:

Will the Nets have that Andrei Kirilenko for 82 games?

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