Friday, September 28, 2012
Brooklyn Nets training camp primer
By Mike Mazzeo
Twelve. Twenty-four. Twenty-two.
Those are the Nets' win totals the past three seasons.
Laughable, sure. But that should change now that they're Brooklyn-bound.
Over the summer, GM Billy King invested around $330 million of owner Mikhail Prokhorov's fortune to turn the team from a pretender into a contender. And at least on paper, the Nets should be a playoff team in their first season playing at the $1 billion Barclays Center.
The Nets begin their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006-07 on Tuesday, when training camp gets under way. They take part in media day on Monday.
With that in mind, here are five pressing questions surrounding the team:
How long will it take for the Nets to jell?
No one seems to know. After all, the Nets have nine new players on the roster. They will have four weeks -- training camp and the preseason -- to get acclimated with one another. It's going to be a process.
The good news is there's plenty of talent and experience. The Nets have also been working out at the PNY Center for the past two weeks to get a head start.
They can score, sure ... but will they defend? Not according to Basketball Prospects' SCHOENE ratings, which project that the Nets will allow opponents to shoot 47 percent from the field.
None of their players is exactly known as a lockdown defender, though Gerald Wallace, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are all pretty good. Unfortunately, the team lacks a true rim protector, as Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries aren't exactly intimidators inside. It's going to be up to coach Avery Johnson to get the most out of his players on the defensive end of the floor. Rotation minutes will be gained and lost here.
What is to be expected out of Brook Lopez? If he's healthy, and he says he is, a lot should be expected out of the 24-year-old center. Lopez can score in a variety of ways, but is also known for the things he can't do so well -- namely rebounding and playing defense.
Still, Lopez has All-Star potential. Will he realize it? Or will he be content to let Reggie Evans and Humphries grab all the boards?
Will Andray Blatche and Josh Childress make the team? They should. Both are on non-guaranteed, make-good contracts, but they are expected to survive training camp and come out with roster spots.
Blatche, 26, needs to put the past in the past and play to his potential. Childress is a player the team likes because of his ability to do the little things, like rebound and score on backcuts. Either way, both moves are low-risk, high-reward for the Nets.
How does Joe Johnson fit in? As long as Johnson isn't being "Iso Joe" too often, the 31-year-old two-guard should thrive playing with a point guard like Williams -- as well as the multitude of other offensive weapons on the team. Johnson should succeed being more of a role player in Brooklyn, whereas he had to be the No. 1 option in Atlanta.
Consider: Williams, a three-time All-Star, has never played with a wing as talented as Johnson in his entire career.