Insider: Hollinger profiles Nets
October, 3, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
ESPN.com's John Hollinger profiled the Nets on Tuesday.
Here are a few things that stood out in his scouting reports. They can be viewed in their entirety on Insider.
On point guard Deron Williams:
Let's hope the renewed enthusiasm in Brooklyn will inspire Williams to actually try on defense, because he completely mailed it in last season. His effort had slackened his final couple of years in Utah as well, but last season reached another level. Synergy rated him one of the worst point guards in the league at that end, and opponents ripped him for an 18 PER, according to 82games.com. This should not be happening. Williams isn't the most laterally fleet player in the league, but he has good size and decent quickness. With proper effort, he should at least be a league-average defender.
On shooting guard Joe Johnson:
Johnson's 3-point shooting percentage predictably recovered after his 2010-11 anomaly, lifting his scoring and shooting numbers along with it. What stood out was how often he fired away, with a third of his shots coming from behind the arc. Throw in his 38.8 percent mark on 3s and his stellar shooting inside it -- 42.2 percent beyond 10 feet, 66.4 percent at the rim and the league's fifth-best mark from 3 to 9 feet -- and Johnson rated well above par in true shooting percentage despite a low free throw rate. Johnson's floater is vastly underrated; two years ago, he was second best in the 3 to 9 foot range.
On small forward Gerald Wallace:
Wallace draws lots of fouls and makes his freebies. He was ninth among small forwards in free throw rate and converted at an 80 percent clip from the stripe. He remains an elite rebounder for a winger capable of moving up to a smaller 4. All those tasks require a high degree of athleticism, and at 30, his durability is a concern.
On power forward Kris Humphries:
The guy whose 2011 offseason included the Hollywood wedding/divorce saga also apparently spent quite a bit of time in the gym, because Humphries had his best season. He has become an absolute beast on the glass, ranking third among power forwards in Rebound Rate while turning into a potent scoring threat.
Humphries ranked in the top half of power forwards in scoring, TS%, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and free throw rate. He has developed as a midrange shooter, hitting 40.2 percent of his long 2s last season and converting a liability into a strength, allowing him to shot-fake and dribble-drive for dunks.
On center Brook Lopez:
The bigger issue is whether a healthy Lopez is a max-contract player. He can score a lot in a league-average, Al Jefferson kind of way, but he has taken criticism for his brutal rebounding numbers. To me, this misplaces the focus. The real issue is that he is a plodding defender who is beatable in transition and hopeless against pick-and-rolls. If he can't improve his defensive value, it will be tough for him to justify the contract -- no matter how many 20-point performances he produces.