ESPN's NBA cast just unveiled their playoff predictions and the Nets' Eastern Conference seed average is a 11.2 and their Atlantic Division seed average is a 3.5. While most of them agree that Avery Johnson was the right hire to turn things around, especially on defense, they believe the team's offseason acquisitions -- Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow -- aren't enough to put the Nets in the East's top eight and they will still need to make a big trade. Of course, that could mean only one name: Carmelo Anthony.
One of the biggest question marks going into this season is: how will Johnson and Devin Harris get along? That could set the tone for the team. On one side, ESPN's Tim Legler, who predicts the Nets will be an eighth playoff seed, says, "His relationship with Devin Harris is critical, and I think it will work." But on the flip side, ESPN's Chris Sheridan, who predicts the Nets will be the third-worst team in the East, says, "Have to wonder whether Avery Johnson has already lost the support of Devin Harris after the Nets were prepared to move him in a Carmelo Anthony deal."
Not only does Johnson benefit from having an All-Star-caliber point guard in Harris, he can call on two-time champion Farmar to run his second unit. Together the veterans make up one of the best point guard duos in the league, and their leadership will bring chemistry to the locker room and help the team's new starters, Outlaw and Morrow, and rookies, Derrick Favors and Damion James, mature quickly. Outlaw and Morrow hitting the open shot will especially pay dividends in every game because Harris and Brook Lopez will be getting double-teamed routinely. Off the bench, Terrence Williams has shown a penchant for playmaking, from scoring to passing, so if he can continue to do that the Nets will be able to maintain a good offensive balance from the first to second team. And if Favors can add close to double-double numbers, that will boost bench production even more. Of course, the biggest boost to the team won't come until they move to Brooklyn in 2012, because the team won't be a playoff threat until then.
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