After struggling with a 12 win season last year, Nets fans are feeling good about their current situation. A much improved roster, a successful coach, and an owner willing to spend has fans thinking about the playoffs. We here think that the playoffs are a possibility but not a guarantee. Over the next two weeks, we are going to look at four things that need to happen for the Nets to make the playoffs.
The Nets Will Make The Playoffs If…Brook Lopez has a 20/10 season
Why Is It Important?
Devin Harris might be the former all-star on the Nets, but without a doubt, Brook Lopez is the best player on the New Jersey Nets right now. That is pretty impressive for a center who is entering his 3rd year in the NBA, after just recently turning 22.
So why is a 20/10 season from Brook so important? Well, because if Brook Lopez can make himself a threat every time he touches the basketball, it opens things up all over the court. Look at how the Orlando Magic run their offense with a 4 out and 1 in strategy. The Magic surround Dwight Howard with 4 shooters, and dump the ball in. Eventually teams are forced to send double teams, and that opens up shooters. While the Nets don’t have the shooters the Magic do, they have a roster that you can consider a “poor man’s Orlando Magic,” and that means they can have success with the 4 out and 1 in. Brook Lopez has a better post game than Dwight (not saying that he is a better player), and that will lead to more double teams. Lopez is a solid passer, and he will be able to find open teammates on the perimeter.
Even without the 4 out and 1 in (not sure how much it would be run…never saw Avery’s Dallas teams run it), the Nets and Avery Johnson seem to be a perfect fit. Their projected starting five isn’t a team that is going to get out and run (Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy are two slower guys and Anthony Morrow isn’t the most athletic player, just a spot up shooter), but that is just fine for coach Johnson. Despite his Mavericks teams being near the bottom of the NBA when it comes to pace, his teams were always near the top when it came to offensive efficiency. That tells me he was good in the halfcourt, mainly because of Dirk. With the Nets, he is going to need a guy to go to in the halfcourt when the team needs a basket, and that will be Brook Lopez. If he is able to put up 20 points with these touches, the Nets could have a successful season.
Can It Happen?
Yes, it can. Brook Lopez put up 18.8 and 8.6 last year, while he was still raw in the post (in my opinion). At 22, Brook still has a ton of time and potential to develop a more mature post game (right now he relies on his size and touch, and while it works, it can be stopped), and I think that development will start this upcoming season. In addition to creating more baskets, a more fundamental post game will lead to more fouls on his opponents, sending him to the line more. For most bigs, this would be a problem…however, for Brook this is a good thing as he has a very good stroke from the line.
Another reason why this will happen is because of the quality of his teammates have improved. Much like how Brook’s success will help his teammate, his teammates’ shooting ability will help Brook. Last year, Brook faced constant double and triple teams because there was no shooting threats on the outside. With guys like Troy Murphy and Anthony Morrow on the court, there will be less double teams thrown in Brook’s direction, meaning more room to operate.