The Nets reportedly made efforts to shake things up this summer, but their core is still in tact. Jason Kidd is coming off an impressive performance for Team USA. Vince Carter has a new contract. And Richard Jefferson, while he may be a bit bothered by the trade rumors that surrounded him all offseason, is 100 percent healthy for the first time in more than a year.
Still, if the Nets want to get past the Second Round this season, they need their role players to take some pressure off Kidd, Carter and RJ, and the whole team needs to play more consistently than they did last year, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Lawrence Frank is a defensive coach. The Nets' running game (where Kidd does his best work) is fueled by their D, and when they're at their best defensively, they're one of the best teams in the East. Their D was spotty at best during the regular season last year, but they picked it up in the playoffs, beating the Raptors and giving the Cavs a tough, six-game series.
Jason Kidd and Vince Carter are clearly one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but are they a good fit for each other? Kidd is at his best when he's on the break, but Carter is a half-court guy and isn't exactly eager to run the floor.
Still, either one of these vets can take over a game at any time. Kidd is Mr. Triple-Double and when Carter is aggressive, he's one of the best scorers in the game. If Kidd's jumper continues to improve (and he has been working on it more than he ever has in his 13-year career), he'll be a better complement for Carter's draw-and-dish game.
Marcus Williams is about as talented a back-up point guard as there is in the league, but he needs to cut down on his defensive, decision-making and shooting lapses in order to keep Kidd rested. And Carter will likely need to play some point until Williams returns from his foot injury.
Antoine Wright, who improved as last season went on, should continue to grow as a versatile wing off the bench, but if any of the big three suffer an injury, the Nets are in some serious trouble.
This is where the Nets made some changes. They signed free agent Jamaal Magloire, who may or may not supplant Jason Collins as a starter. They drafted Sean Williams to give them a shotblocking presence they haven't had since Kenyon Martin left for Denver.
Most important though, is the return of Nenad Krstic, who missed the last 56 games last season after he tore the ACL in his left knee in December. Krstic might be brought along slowly to start, but he has extended his shooting range with his time off and he'll team with Carter to form one of the best pick-and-pop combinations in the league.
Boki Nachbar had a breakout season in 2006-07 and, with Eddie House gone, will be needed even more this year to give the Nets some shooting off the bench. Josh Boone gave them some quality minutes toward the end of last season and Collins is one of the best low-post defenders in the league.
-- John Schuhmann
Don't miss a single minute of exciting Nets Basketball during the 2007-08 season. It's more than a game.
With his numbers having gone down each of the last three seasons, it feels like Jamaal Magloire's game is much closer to its nadir than its peak. The last three teams he has played for have not brought him back the following season.
Yet, Magloire is only 29 years old, and he was an All-Star just three years ago.
Can he return to the double-double form of 2003-04? Probably not. Be he could certainly be more productive than the numbers he put up (6.5 PPG & 6.1 RPG) for the Blazers last season. And if he can somehow take the Nets' rebounding title away from their point guard, they may be a much more balanced team than they have been since Kenyon Martin left.
-- John Schuhmann
||Only two players in NBA history have ever averaged a triple-double during the course of a postseason. Oscar Robertson (28.8 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 11.0 APG) did it in four games in 1962, and Jason Kidd (14.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 10.9 APG) did it in 12 games in 2007.
Four times, 18-20 (.474)
You would have a hard time finding a head coach in this league that works harder or prepares his team better than Lawrence Frank. He's a defensive-minded guy who never calls out his players in public. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't ask a lot of them. So, he finds it difficult at times to let his younger players play through mistakes, depending more on the vets to help them win games.
Every October, Frank promises to cut Jason Kidd's minutes, but it hasn't happened yet. And Marcus Williams' injury (which could keep him out for the first month of the regular season) will make it even tougher to do this year.
-- John Schuhmann
KNOW YOUR NETS
Vince Carter received a scholarship offer for music to Bethune-Cookman College.
Magloire is one of those wild-cards, like Mikki Moore was last year, and Mikki was unbelievable for them and played his butt off. Magloire gives you a bigger body and more of a rebounding presence, but he's not as active as Mikki.
Krstic has gotten better and better every year, so it will be interesting to see how he comes back.
It's amazing how good Kidd still is, especially watching him in the playoffs.
Even with the additions Boston made, I think New Jersey has the best core and the best team right now in the Atlantic. When you've got Kidd, Carter and Jefferson running around and when you've got Krstic back on the block, you're awfully good.
When you run a zipper for Vince and get him the ball at the top of the key, he has a tendency to settle for a jump shot. But if he gets the ball at the elbow and he's one dribble from the rim... No. 1, the defender knows that and he doesn't want to get dunked on so there's a better opportunity to draw a foul, but it also gives Vince many more options. Now, he can raise up right there and make that shot easy, he can put it down and get to the rim, or, if the defense is sagging, he can find people, because there's not a pass he can't make.
Collins is an underrated defender. He defended Bosh by himself in that series against Toronto and when you don't have to double the other team's best player, you're doing something well.
-- Eastern Conference Scout