Evan Kaplan is a new writer for NetsAreScorching and he will be posting here once a week. Evan is a lifelong Nets’ fan, so he shares the same passion for the Nets as all the other writers do. To keep track of Evan’s work, you can go here.
The Nets won just 12 games last season. It was by all accounts one of the worst seasons in NBA history. So don’t blame me if I’m a bit skeptical of starting point guard Devin Harris when he says the team’s expectation is to make the playoffs in 2010-11. Let’s just take this thing one step at a time, Devin.
There is no question that this year’s version of the Nets will have more talent. The additions of Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors and Jordan Farmar will certainly help the team (and I guess you can throw Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro in there, too). But with so many new pieces a major factor will be how this team meshes together. New Head Coach Avery Johnson will have the task of getting everyone on the same page and making sure everyone knows their role on the team. But in the increasingly point-guard driven NBA, much of the success of this season will fall on D. Harris.
Devin Harris will be entering his third full season in Jersey and the team is hoping he can regain his 2008-2009 form. Despite the team winning just 34 games two seasons ago, Harris’ numbers were quite impressive. He averaged 21.3 points, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals, on his way to being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. But his numbers trailed off dramatically in 2009-2010, and he admitted that in 2010-11 he needed to get healthy and regain his All-Star form.
The relationship between Harris and Avery Johnson will be one to keep a close eye on. The two were together in Dallas and many in the media felt that Johnson did not let Harris play the point guard position with enough freedom. However the Nets point guard did say he was excited when the organization hired Johnson to be the team’s new head coach.
The former Wisconsin star is the definition of the modern-day hybrid point guard. He is most effective when he’s scoring the ball first and dishing to teammates second. But with the new pieces the Nets have on their roster, he needs to be more of a facilitator and get everyone else involved. In 64 games last season, Harris had 10 or more assists just 7 times. If the Nets are to improve in this upcoming season and take a substantial step towards respectability, he will need to up his play and be the team’s true floor general. Devin Harris can say he expects the Nets to make the playoffs in 2010-11, but much of the team’s success will fall on his shoulders, and if he can become an All-Star caliber player again.