Starting Five: It's a team game

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
12:14
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets do not have an elite, must-watch scorer like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony.

What they do have, however, are several players with the ability to do a lot of different things well on offense, like passing, shooting and low-post scoring, which should enable them to be highly potent on that end of the floor.

Last season, the Nets were forced to rely on isolation sets, mainly because their forwards -- Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans -- were not very competent offensively.

The Nets ranked last in points per game by starting small forwards and power forwards in 2012-13 (13.3 ppg). They ranked fifth in the NBA in isolation plays per game (14.2) and shot a league-best 43.3 percent in isos.

Deron Williams made it known that he did not like playing in an offense that was so isolation-heavy. When D-Will was in Utah, the Jazz were implementing a "flex" offense predicated on ball movement, spacing and motion sets.

A lot of cutting and a lot of passing. Not a lot of standing around and watching.

While the Nets finished ninth in points per 100 possessions during the regular season, they shot just 40.7 percent in their Game 7 loss to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Leadership and toughness were attributes the Nets were clearly missing. So were more offensive weapons to compliment Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson.

Despite being cap-strapped, Nets GM Billy King got creative and executed a blockbuster trade to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. King also got 3-point threat Jason Terry in the deal. He then signed Andrei Kirilenko, an unselfish versatile veteran who will likely have instant chemistry with Williams dating back to their days in Utah.

In Garnett and Pierce, the Nets are getting a pair of future Hall of Famers that averaged 31.2 points on 46.2 percent shooting. Even at their advanced ages, the duo represents a massive upgrade over Wallace and Humphries, who were dealt to Boston.

Garnett and Pierce may not be the players they once were, but they are still tremendous assets because of their ability to facilitate -- KG out of the high-post and Pierce as a point forward.

During the preseason it’s become pretty apparent: the Nets offense, with Jason Kidd at the helm, looks better now than it did last season. And this is without Williams, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle injury.

“I just think the offense in general is different,” Williams said. “A lot more movement, the ball [is] not stagnant there’s not as much isolation. There’s going to be isos at times. We have a lot of matchups we can exploit, but that’s not what we’re going to rely on. We’re not going to rely on 1-on-1. That’s been the biggest difference. It’s kind of an equal opportunity offense, plays not for one certain guy but anybody can get it.”

Said Williams of the team’s passing ability, “I think that’s a big strong point of our team. We have so many guys that can pass the ball, even off the bench.”

With Lopez, who is shooting nearly 59 percent during the preseason, drawing so much attention down low, Johnson and Pierce, in particular, are getting a ton of open shots. It’s pretty much pick your poison.

No, the Nets don’t have James, Durant or Anthony. But they do have the potential to have a different leading scorer on any given night. And maybe that’ll be enough.

Frustration mounts: For D-Will, not being able to play has been tough. More on the blog.

Time for takeoff: “Jet” Terry will make his preseason debut for the Nets Wednesday night in Boston. Check out our news story.

In case you missed it: Garnett and Pierce will not play Wednesday. Click here for the newser.

No Bron Friday: LeBron James is likely to miss Friday night’s preseason finale in Miami.

Day off: The Nets have Monday off before resuming practice Tuesday.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8