— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 13, 2014
Good morning! Usually your bleary eyes aren’t accustomed to eyeballing anything but Nets basketball at this time of day, which unfortunately never happens this early on a weekday morning. But today, you’re in luck! That means you, Brook Lopez!
Yes, the Nets are in Beijing taking on the Sacramento Kings as part of the NBA’s Global Games Initiative, and in the interest of making the game palatable to local fans, it’s airing at 7:30 A.M. Eastern Standard Time.
So while you stumble to your coffee pot and try not to trip over that wire right there (no, not that one — that other one), here’s three things to watch in this morning’s game:
1) Flexing. Lionel Hollins has begun instituting a flex-style offense, predicated on a lot of motion and off-ball movement, reminiscent of Jerry Sloan’s famous flex in Utah. The triangle offense gets all the press, but the flex is a difficult offense to get accustomed to, and it’s easy to lose track of without constant repetition and reminding from a patient coaching staff. The reads themselves aren’t wholly difficult, but maintaining the offense and keeping it fluid for 48 minutes is.
That’s probably why we only saw it in about 20 to 25 percent of Brooklyn’s possessions in their last game, and most of those came in the second half, after the Nets had time to make adjustments at intermission. We’ll probably see more of it today.
In the same vein: earlier in training camp, backup point guard Jarrett Jack praised Deron Williams for walking his teammates through the various machinations of the offense. We saw some of this develop in real-time: Williams occasionally would point to teammates or spots, telling them to initiate some off-ball action.
Keep an eye on how, and how often, players move off the ball today. It might give us some inclination about how quickly the style is catching on.
2) Bogie. The team leader in minutes in their Sunday overnight affair was none other than Croatian rookie Bojan Bogdanovic, who played 27:39 in the 97-95 victory. He had a quiet game, hitting 3 of 7 shots and missing all three of his long-range attempts, but with Alan Anderson sidelined with a sore abdominal muscle he’s the current favorite to win the starting spot come opening night.
Bogdanovic is a scorer by nature, which both makes his low attempt total curious and isn’t really what the Nets need in an offense-heavy starting lineup. He’ll have to make his mark on the defensive end, and get further accustomed to the NBA three-point line.
3) The Final Cut Fight. The Nets have 17 players on their training camp roster, with four guys fighting over two spots. Unfortunately for three of them, only one played Sunday morning: surprise entry Jerome Jordan, who scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds in 15 surprising minutes. If he can hold that production, he might steal a starting spot from incumbent fourth-string point guard Jorge Gutierrez or rookie forward Cory Jefferson, who both have non-guaranteed contracts.
So who’s getting the call this morning? It’s possible that Hollins (or Westphal) might empty the Nets bench with only one game left in China, giving Sunday’s seatwarmers a chance to prove themselves in front of a foreign crowd. The answer might give us an inkling about who’s waving towels on opening night.