At yesterday’s practice, the topic of conversation focused on changes and new beginnings. Avery Johnson returns to Dallas as coach of the Nets, Terrence Williams is back in the fold and “in the rotation” and there may be a possible change in the starting line-up. Al Iannazzone speculates:
Our guess is Travis Outlaw is going to the bench and maybe rookie Damion James gets the start.
Not sure you want to start a rookie against the Mavericks, so it’s only a guess. Keep in mind, we got the impression the other day the way Johnson was talking about the Nets needing more offense and saying Troy Murphy needs to get more shots that it meant more time and touches for the veteran power forward. Murphy never got off the bench in Atlanta.
Can’t blame Avery on this one. Outlaw has been bad lately. Like really, really bad. According to 82games, Outlaw’s own production versus his opponent’s production when he’s on the floor has just been an enormous liability. At SF this season, his production has been a paltry PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 9.2 and his opponent’s PER is 14.9 for a differential of -5.7. It gets worse at PF where his PER is 14.7 but his opponents clock in at 30.0. Besides those advanced stats there are just things with the naked eye you can notice – he hesitates to shoot and he has very little mobility on defense. I hate to say this because I know I was a defender of this move, but I wonder if Outlaw is really just a changed player since his foot injury last year. I assumed he was healthy when the Nets gave him that 5-year contract and maybe he physically is, but he doesn’t resemble the dynamic bench scorer he was in his Portland days.
As for James, he’s looked good since Avery started using him in the rotation. I’m speculating here, but would the Nets recall TWill so quickly just to keep him off the bench? Maybe it sends the wrong message, but it’s not like TWill doesn’t have experience successfully playing SF in the NBA. And with nobody besides Devin Harris capable of distributing the ball in the starting lineup, he would be a huge help.