Monday Musings – December 20th

All things considered it was a pretty good week for the Nets. They broke their eight-game losing streak and finished 2-2 after a win over the Hawks yesterday afternoon. They could have easily won the Philly or Toronto game but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. This past week has got me thinking a lot about the Nets front court and how Avery Johnson has used the power forward and center rotation. There have been some bright spots in the post for the team and some things they can improve upon.

Clearly the most surprising member of the Nets front court has been Kris Humphries. Hump has played in all 28 games this season, averaging 7.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 25 minutes per contest. His rebounding has been tremendous and he has forced his way into the starting lineup. As I wrote about after the game in Toronto on Friday night, he also picks his spots very well on the offensive end. He can hit the rare 15-17 foot jumper and his strong offensive rebounding allows him to be in the right spot for easy put-backs. Avery has played Humphries a lot, but he should be considering the production from the power forward.

The other two power forwards on the roster (Joe Smith now gone) have been somewhat inconsistent off the bench. Let’s first start with Troy Murphy, who I admittedly felt was going to be a big part of this team before the season started. The back injury early on really hurt him in the rotation and he has played in just 13 games this season. The reason Murph is not playing more is Derrick Favors. The rook is getting nearly 20 minutes per game and has shown some great flashes in his short time in the NBA. His defense is still wildly inconsistent and he needs to learn how to play without fouling, but I think Avery has used him well.

Sometimes I find myself wondering why Murphy doesn’t play more, considering he is still a very serviceable NBA player. Well the simple answer is that there really aren’t any minutes for him. Humphries has forced his way into the starting lineup and has played very well this season. And I like the way that Johnson has used Favors and developed him off the bench. So while at times I wish Murph would get a little more burn, it’s hard to argue with how Avery has used the power forward position.

The performance of Brook Lopez so far this season has been frustrating at times. His scoring numbers aren’t awful but his field goal percentage and rebounding numbers are way down from his career averages. He also has the tendency to drift in and out of games a lot. He will have a great 10-minute stretch and then you won’t hear from him again until much later in the game. He is still a young player so consistency is always an issue but he just needs to be better. I don’t buy the argument that Kris Humphries “takes rebounds away” from Brook. If you are a 7-foot player in today’s NBA, averaging just 6.3 rebounds in 28 games is absurd.

I don’t need to spend any time on Johan Petro because he basically is what we thought he’d be. I wasn’t excited when they signed him to an overblown contract in the offseason, so 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per contest is what I expected. Overall the front court has been solid and there are plenty of other areas on the team where the Nets could improve. Light slate of games this week because of the holidays, so a split at New Orleans and at Memphis would be pretty solid. Enjoy the games…