Yesterday morning, I think I ruffled a few feathers of Nets fans by suggesting that their recent performance on the West Coast was a bit of an eye opener for me regarding their need of an established volume scorer. While I understand the reservations of anointing Carmelo Anthony that scorer, especially at the cost of Derrick Favors, there are a few offensive trends developing that show that something needs to be changed about how this team goes about scoring (or not scoring) points.
For the best overall picture of the Nets offensive performance, look no further than their offensive efficiency, which at 100.9 points per 100 possessions, ranks them in the bottom third of the league (23rd). Yes, they are better on offense than they were last year (dead last, 98.1 points per 100 possessions), but not that much better. If they maintain their current rate, they would have finished tied for 27th last season. Given that the Nets are still a mediocre team defensively (105.6 points per 100 possessions, 19th in the league), what they’re putting forward on the offensive end is just not good enough.
So how did the Nets get here? For starters, they currently own the slowest pace in basketball (91.4 possessions per game). Without a reliable scorer, the Nets are not going to be able to win games (i.e. outscore opponents) if they’re going to play at a pace that limits their chances every game. Meanwhile, the Nets are likely using such a low pace because on offense they’re angling to do two things: go inside by either feeding the ball in the post to Brook Lopez or having Devin Harris break down his defender with a drive to a rim, or looking to Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow or Jordan Farmar on the perimeter. The problems with this strategy are two-fold. First, the Nets currently rank 24th in the league with a True Shooting percentage of 52.3. Since True Shooting accounts for three-point shots and free throws, the Nets are seemingly falling short in both these areas. Second, according to HoopData, the Nets are only connecting on 53.3 percent of their shots at the rim, last in the league. So their work on the inside is going for naught as well.
Again, I’m not saying Carmelo Anthony is a cure to what ails this team, but help on offense is clearly needed if this team is going to start winning with any consistency, which I think they have the potential to do, with an adjustment in the player personnel.