Dissecting the Nets’ 2010-11 Offensive System

By Evan Kaplan

In today’s NBA there are various offensive systems that coaches implement. There is the run-and-gun style that Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni has become known for and the famous Triangle Offense of Phil Jackson. The Nets new head coach, Avery Johnson, has a clear-cut offensive philosophy, which is focused on pushing the ball and swinging it from side to side in the half-court. But the ultimate key for any offense is to best utilize the players on the roster and allow them to maximize their strengths in a given system.

The Nets 2010-11 offense will in many ways fall on the shoulders of Devin Harris. The team’s point guard played under Johnson in Dallas and despite reports that the two had a rocky relationship with the Mavs, Harris said he is happy with the hire in New Jersey. At times, some felt that Johnson did allow Harris to play with enough freedom in Dallas and that will be a key dynamic to watch with the Nets. In order for this offense to be effective, Harris will need to be the floor general and force the team to get out and run, which is one of the lynchpins of Avery Johnson’s teams.

The Nets’ coach has said that the first part of his offensive philosophy is to get the defensive rebound and “go.” Johnson wants the team’s point guard to be the first option for the outlet pass but not the only option. That means the Nets’ shooting guards and small forwards are going to need to be able to handle the ball. A primary candidate for this role will be Terrence Williams. T-Will is one of the most versatile players on the Nets roster and if the team is going to try and push the ball like Johnson wants, guys like Williams, Anthony Morrow and even Travis Outlaw will need to be willing to handle the basketball.

The big men will also play a vital role in the fast-paced system that Johnson will implement. He says that once the rebound is secured by one of the frontcourt players, the other big man must sprint to the offensive block ready to receive a pass. This philosophy should create some interesting playing time decisions for Johnson and may actually lead to more PT for the Nets rookie, Derrick Favors. While Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy can run the floor, they are much more suited for the half-court. The Nets coach will need to find a delicate balance between playing his big men who can run the floor (Favors and Humphries) and those who are more suited to play in the low post (Lopez and Murphy).

There is no doubt that fans want to see a team that runs the floor. There was nothing more exciting as a Nets fan than watching Jason Kidd lead the fast break in the early 2000s. But Avery Johnson needs to realize that one of the best players on his roster, Brook Lopez, is a legitimate low-post center. He can run the floor, but that is not where he is at his strongest. Johnson clearly recognizes the impact of Lopez on this team, as he brought in Popeye Jones as an assistant coach to help with the young center’s development. The most effective offensive system for the 2010-11 Nets will be to run like Avery Johnson wants, but to realize that in order to best utilize their best player, Brook Lopez, they need to give him the ball in the low-post and let him go to work.