Is zone defense in the Nets’ future?

The Nets could look to zone it up. (AP)
The Nets could look to zone it up. (AP)
The Nets could look to zone it up. (AP)

Is there zone defense in the Brooklyn Nets future? Per Newsday’s Rod Boone, at Nets shootaround prior to Nets-Sixers Wednesday night:

A few thoughts:

1) This is not the worst thing to test out against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are at best a confused jumble of former collegiate and international athletes tossed together in a plan to maximize tanking, and at worst a chemically-induced Sam Hinkie NBA 2K15 MyGM simulated hallucination. The 76ers trot out the worst offense in the NBA by a significant margin, despite getting to the rim for shot attempts more often than any team except the New Orleans Pelicans. A zone would help the Nets eliminate that one sliver of a strength and force the 76ers into more jump-shooting. Since they rank as the league’s worst-shooting team from 20-24 feet, converting only 27.5 percent of shots from that distance, forcing them to take more of their shots outside than in isn’t a bad thing.

2) On a grander scale: the center of a zone defense is its fulcrum; the man in the middle is the player who’s often called upon to call out different offenses, since he’s the one seeing the entire floor. That means for long stretches, a successful zone will rely on Brook Lopez, not known as a vocal defender, calling the shots.

Granted, he will have Kevin Garnett at his side, who spends his spare time barking defensive orders at confused drive-thru attendants. So that’ll help.

3) The Nets have tried a variation of zones in the past, most notably with Lopez hanging back in the paint and Reggie Evans “cross-switching” on any pick-and-rolls that involved Lopez’s big men. It had varied success. Garnett is a superior defender to Evans, and any scheme that involves zoning up might involve Garnett doing much of the grunt work in the starting lineup. But when he hits the bench, those are big (and loud) shoes to fill for Mirza Teletovic, Mason Plumlee, and/or Jerome Jordan.

Will it work? We might see the groundwork laid tonight against the 76ers.