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Burning Q's: Can Jack replace Livingston?

9/1/2014

With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Can Jarrett Jack replace Shaun Livingston?

This is what Jason Kidd envisioned happening last season, when the Nets were exploring trade opportunities before the February trading deadline.

The Nets knew there was a strong likelihood of losing Livingston in free agency. Jack was a prime candidate as a combo guard who might be able to ease the blow of Livingston’s pending departure.

Even after Kidd left for Milwaukee, the Nets decided to acquire Jack in a trade, basically to replace Livingston. Like Livingston, Jack is capable of playing point guard and shooting guard. Jack can get hot offensively, fast. He is two seasons removed from averaging 15.6 points and 6.3 assists in 45 games for New Orleans back in 2011-'12. The following season, Jack averaged 12.9 points, 5.6 assists and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc in 79 games for Golden State.

And Jack starred in the postseason, averaging 17.2 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 12 playoff games for the Warriors in 2013.

Last season, though, Jack’s averages dipped to 9.5 points, 4.1 assists and 34 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Nets will find out if Jack didn’t produce because of the situation he was in with the Cavaliers last season, or because his game is on the decline.

Nets GM Billy King is betting that he will be more like the Golden State Jack than the Cleveland Jack this season. It remains to be seen how coach Lionel Hollins will use Jack. But he has options.

Jack could come off the bench and be a super sub who can play either guard spot and provide scoring punch. Or Hollins could do what Kidd did with Livingston and play him alongside Deron Williams for stretches, allowing Jack to handle the ball and distribute while Williams concentrates on scoring. We will have to see if Jack can run the offense as smoothly as Livingston did.

What Jack can’t do that Livingston brought was the ability to be a dual threat in the post. The 6-foot-7 Livingston could score and pass out of the paint. Also, Livingston was a major asset defensively. Livingston could play and defend three different positions (point guard, shooting guard, small forward), and he sparked the defense with his active hands.

Jack likely won’t be able to duplicate those things. But he is as close to a replacement as the Nets could have found for Livingston. He won’t replace everything Livingston gave the Nets. But he can provide more scoring punch and some of the versatility in the backcourt Livingston brought.

Question: Do you think Jack will replace Livingston successfully this season?