During Deron Williams’s Celebrity Dodge Barrage, Nets coach Lionel Hollins confirmed that Kevin Garnett “earned (the) right” to be his starting power forward, joining Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez in the Nets starting lineup.
Friday at the team’s media day, Hollins expounded on his lineup decisions, adding that the team has a long way to go but being clear about his vision for the starting lineup.
“It’s gonna be a guard. Joe Johnson’s gonna be a three (small forward),” Hollins said. “But as I say that, I don’t want to be held to it because 2/3 (shooting guard/small forward) is the same position, basically like 4/5 (power forward/center) is the same position, technically. But I’m looking for one of those guys to play guard.”
That would seem to indicate that Andrei Kirilenko, who might’ve been a starting small forward for the team, is penciled in to come off the bench. The two main candidates at guard are veteran Alan Anderson and rookie Bojan Bogdanovic, though backup point guard Jarrett Jack could see minutes in a combo role.
“We don’t have a lot of small forwards, so those guys, Bojan to me is a guard, Alan Anderson is a guard, and we’ve got AK (Andrei Kirilenko) and Joe at small forward. So when you say that, I’m thinking more from a guard perspective,” Hollins said. Putting Johnson at small forward means he has less size advantages over his opponents, but might have the ability to take defenders off the dribble more easily.
Anderson is the favorite as of now. The 31-year-old guard (he’ll be 32 by the season opener) started 26 games last season for the Nets as they dealt with various injuries to their starting 5, averaging 8.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 28.5 minutes per game as a starter, shooting a respectable 34.5 percent from three-point range. “It’d be great (to start),” Anderson said. “If it’s starting or if it’s coming off the bench, I’ll be ready. But it’ll be good if I could start with the guys he’s going to have starting, because I’m familiar with a lot of the guys.”
Bogdanovic, a 25-year-old rookie, was one of Eurobasket’s best players for the past three seasons. He’s earned rave reviews from some teammates for his shooting touch since joining the team’s scrimmages, after a 27-point performance in an opening Round of 16 FIBA World Cup loss. But Hollins is the type of coach that prefers veterans, putting Bogdanovic at a disadvantage.
That leaves Jack, who might be difficult to put in the starting lineup next to Deron Williams. Though they’d likely play off each other well, Jack is the only other quality point guard on the roster, with the inexperienced Jorge Gutierrez and Marquis Teague the next backups. Playing the two together could leave a hole in the second unit.