Yesterday, you heard about some of our concerns for the upcoming season. But today, is opening day. This is the day where everything feels right for the team you root for. Those looking for insight and critical analysis about the New Jersey Nets from this site – don’t worry. The second the final buzzer sounds tonight in Minnesota, we’ll get back to breaking down the video. But for now – happy thoughts. Call it a moratorium on the mortifying.
I’m legitimately excited about watching the Nets this season – more than I’ve been on an opening day since the Nets fell short of beating the Spurs in the NBA Finals, and attempted to solidify their spot at the top of the East by resigning their franchise point guard, and importing Alonzo Mourning to play center. We all know how that turned out – but again, to quote the new hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I’m not here to talk about the past.
So why am I so excited about watching 82 games (and maybe more) of a team that is predicted by most around the NBA to win less than 30 games this season? It all starts with offense. Yes, I’m excited about watching a team that just traded Vince Carter, one of the league’s top scorers, because I’m looking forward to checking out this team’s offense.
Stop laughing now.
It’s hard to make too many definitive statements or predictions about this team after watching seven games of preseason – especially since Devin Harris, their leading scorer was out for most of those games. But this team is one of the more athletic and quick Nets teams I’ve seen in a long time.
When I try to imagine Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts on the fast break, I can’t help but go back to Kidd-Kittles-Jefferson during the Nets two-year glory run. Harris may not have the court vision of Kidd, but man, can he move fast with the ball or what? Meanwhile, CDR doesn’t always look pretty when he’s around the basket, but he always seems to find a way to get the ball in the hoop. Courtney Lee, with his long, lanky frame, can either finish strong at the hoop a la Kerry Kittles, or pop out to the outside for the three pointer.
Brook Lopez is the best offensive center this team has had since I started watching the Nets in the early 90s. And his rebounding and shot blocking abilities aren’t too shabby either. Brook is a very effective one-on-one post player, and as he showed last year, he’s not afraid to pop out and shoot the ball from 15-feet either. Outside of an injury or some kind of freak occurrence, I see no reason for Brook to regress this season. I can only envision improvement on both sides of the ball.
Then there’s Yi. Earlier this summer we heard about all the muscle he added and how he bullied some inferior players in the FIBA Asia Championship. Then, the first two games of the preseason, Yi had some nondescript performances and I could pretty much hear everyone in Nets-fan-land sigh, “here we go again.” But then, something seemed different about Yi. He looked assertive and confident. He made moves around the rim I’ve never seen him make before. He shot his usual array of jumpers, but with more efficiency. He looked a little flat-footed on defense, but he was also more active and he stuck with plays with more tenacity.
Yes – cue another round of laughter – but I think Yi is going to be a good player this season. I think a lot remains to be seen about how many points Yi can score when he has to share the ball with the wings and Brook all together on the floor at one time, but call it something instinctual for me. The guy has something to prove this year, and I just think he’s going to prove it.
So here we are, on the cusp of another Nets season. This season is going to be full of a number of distractions as we hear about Brooklyn and Mikhail Prokhorov and the status of expiring contracts who may want out of a losing season like Rafer Alston and Bobby Simmons. But this season is going to be entertaining. I look at our starting 5 and I see five guys who can put up double digits every night. With scoring potential like that, why should I bother spending the remaining hours of the day today thinking about everything that’s bound to go wrong.
That’s what tomorrow is for.