In last week’s editions of 3-on-3, we looked at different targets the Nets might pursue in free agency at the small forward and power forward positions. This time, we’re talking about who we’ve got now — and what they’ll do next year.
Joining Justin DeFeo and myself is perpetual riser/grinder Beckley Mason, founder of the phenomenal site HoopSpeak, and host of their weekly live online show HoopSpeak Live. You can follow Beckley on Twitter @BeckleyMason. If you don’t, the cool kids at the other lunch table will make fun of you.
1) Over/Under: Deron Williams will average 10 assists per game next season.
Justin DeFeo: An optimistic over. In his 12 games with the Nets last season, D-Will averaged 12.8 APG and he was over 10 in his last four years in Utah. Perfectly able to balance his scoring and dishing, the Nets should provide just enough offense around him to make 10 assists a game possible. Adding another scorer in Marshon Brooks should only help the cause.
Devin Kharpertian: Over. He won’t average the crazy assist numbers he hit with the Nets last season, if only because a healed right wrist means more opportunity for Deron to create for Deron. But an improved wrist for shooting also means an improved wrist for passing, and he’ll find he can create a number of assists for Anthony Morrow and Brook Lopez.
Beckley Mason: Over. My initial instinct was to assume everyone gets worse playing in New Jersey, but Williams dropped dimes like a 3AM drunk trying to get correct change out of his pocket for some late night McDonalds. He won’t average a baker’s dozen as he did in his twelve games last year, but I don’t see any reason to suspect he won’t post a double-digit average.
2) Over/Under: Brook Lopez will average 7 boards per game next season.
Justin DeFeo: God, I hope so. I’ll say over. He didn’t average over seven in any single month last season, but his first two years with the Nets he was over eight. I’d have to imagine that one of the areas of focus in this extended off-season for Brook has been rebounding and Avery Johnson has had lots of time to scheme ways to get Brook near the rim more, especially on offense, which should help his low offensive rebounding numbers.
Devin Kharpertian: Over, probably. Lopez needs to use his body down low much more than he did last season, and, you know, actually fight for rebounds. If Kris Humphries is back continuing his board-stealing escapades, he may flirt with 6 again. That said, his biggest enemy on the glass is often his own positioning — he’s either 16-18 feet from the basket, or set up on one of the blocks with a defender pinned behind him. If he can work closer to the basket — and I mean work — I think we’ll see his rebounding uptick no matter who’s next to him.
Beckley Mason: Over. He’s huge and has averaged well-over 7 boards, his disappointing 2011 campaign notwithstanding. What Lopez lacks in mobility and flying-elbow fearlessness in the paint is nothing playing in a de fact contract year can’t fix. If Lopez wants that Marc Gasol money, he better get on the glass.
3) Over/Under: The Nets will play .500 ball this season.
Justin DeFeo: Under. Getting to .500 this season would mean an 18 game improvement from last year and the Nets simply have not done enough for me to think this kind of turn around is coming. Drafting Brooks and any possible free agent move and/or trade will help, but in an improved Eastern conference, the Nets will still fall in the .400 range.
Devin Kharpertian: Somewhere between under and even. The Nets are only set at two positions now, and the rest of the roster is in complete flux; shooting guard likely won’t change much, but both forward spots are up for grabs. If they start this season with roughly the same roster, I don’t see the Nets clawing over .500, but that likely won’t be the case. They could do much worse than D-Will and Brook as building blocks.
Beckley Mason: Barely over. The Nets need more talent to impact the playoffs, but Williams and Lopez should be enough for a moderately successful season. If they can deal Lopez and anything else they can scrape together for Howard, this is a scary squad, but as things stand, I don’t have enough faith in Avery Johnson to expect much more than 45 wins.