The Nets Power Forward Outage

With far and away the worst record in the NBA and the league’s worst offense, it’s no surprise that statistically speaking, outside of the center position, that the Nets have been outplayed by their opponents at every spot on the floor this season. However, when looking at season stats for the Nets production by position courtesy of 82games, I was interested by just how poorly the team has performed at the PF position.

Overall, Nets power forwards, which include Yi Jianlian, Kris Humphries, Josh Boone and at the very beginning of the season, Bobby Simmons, have put up a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 11.4 this season, while opposing PFs have a PER of 19.5 against the Nets, good for a differential of -8.1. Not only is this the worst PER differential at the position in the entire league, but only one team, Sacramento comes relatively close in terms of this dubious honor, with a PER differential of -6.4 at the PF position.

For the season, Nets PFs are averaging (per 48 minutes), 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and an effective field goal percentage of .423, while allowing their opponents 22.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, .9 blocks and an eFG of 52 percent. When looking at opponents scoring output for all five positions, the PF average of 22.3 is the highest.

On the plus side, despite conspiracy theorists nicknaming coach Kiki Vandeweghe “Yiki,” Nets PFs are tied with the SF position for fewest field goal attempts on the team with 14.4 per game. So, at least the organization acknowledges the deficiencies at the position by not designing an offense geared towards getting Yi and company more shots.

But what’s most alarming is just how well opposing PFs are playing against the Nets, indicating the team’s defensive issues at the position. While Yi looked impressive on the offensive end when he initially came back from his injury in December, he was still unable to demonstrate any improvement on the defensive end. The same could be said for Kris Humphries, who, with increased playing time in New Jersey, has shown many of the same traits that Nets fans slam Yi for – a propensity to take jump shots at poor times, and poor defense. Opposing PFs are putting up a PER of 22.4, with 26.7 points and an eFG of 59 percent when Humphries are on the floor.

The conclusions that can be drawn from these numbers should be obvious: upgrading at the four has to be a priority for the team this off-season.  With free agents-to-be Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer already indicating that they have no desire to play for the Nets, it will be interesting to see how the Nets will go about upgrading the position. But unless the Nets want to continue dealing with a huge deficit at the position next season, the status quo can not be the same. Yi, Boone and Humphries can not get the bulk of the playing time at the four next season, unless the Nets get significantly better at the other four positions to compensate.