COACH: Lawrence Frank | 2007-08: 34-48
New Jersey Nets

Yi and Harris represent a new era in New Jersey.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Whenever anyone asked me how I felt about the Nets' moves this summer (and this happened often), my standard response is "I'll tell you in two years."

In the world of the NBA, there usually comes a point when you realize that your team isn't moving forward anymore, and for its long-term benefit, you need to take a step back. The Sixers did that when they traded Allen Iverson two years ago, and they're already reaping the rewards, adding Elton Brand to a promising, athletic core this summer.

Now, it's the New Jersey Nets' turn. Sure, you could argue that Rod Thorn should have started rebuilding earlier, but with the trades of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, there's no doubt that Thorn and General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe finally have their eyes on the future.

And two years from now, with cap space and potentially a slew of star free agents, the Nets just might reap the rewards. For now, they'll be starting from scratch and trying to build a team that a big-time free agent would want to come to in 2010.

They can begin by distributing name tags.

Only three players who started last season with the Nets remain in New Jersey: Vince Carter, Josh Boone and Sean Williams.

Boone (solid, but not spectacular) and Williams (spectacular, but not solid) are part of the young core that will be built around point guard Devin Harris, the centerpiece of the Kidd deal. Harris has been given control of the team and has the ability (on both ends of the floor) to be one of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference. Knowing he has a special player, coach Lawrence Frank has developed his team's offense around his point guard.

"It's so wide open," Harris told the media after the Nets' first practice. "There's no set down-picks and cross-screens. It's pretty much just reading off of what I do when I start the offense. It's me getting in the lane. It's pretty much predicated on what I do."

The rest of the young core came together on draft day when Yi Jianlian was acquired in the Jefferson trade and Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts were selected with the Nets' three picks.

Yi and Lopez could very well be the Nets' starting frontline at some point this season, and both are big parts of the "let's see in two years" analysis. Yi, seven feet tall, 20 or 23 years old, athletic and skilled, has the tools to be a star, but the on-court demeanor that could hold him back. The Nets hope that their newly acquired veterans can instill some toughness in the second-year lottery pick.

On first glance, those veterans, Eduardo Najera, Keyon Dooling and Jarvis Hayes, seem like they're arriving a few years too late (don't they realize that the Nets haven't been contenders since 2004?) to be the solid subs that every team with title aspirations needs. But on further inspection, they are the kind of guys (Najera especially) who can guide the youngsters and keep the win totals somewhat respectable over the next two seasons.

The other guy who has the ability to keep this team afloat is Carter. As talented as he is maligned, Carter and his disposition will determine if the Nets challenge for a playoff spot this season. He will be called upon to step up and lead, while proving that last year's sub-par season was more about a bad ankle (he had surgery right after the season ended) and a backcourt-mate (Kidd) with a bad attitude than a decline in his athleticism.

After the Kidd trade (28 games), Carter did average 22.7 points, 6.6 boards and 5.1 assists while shooting .475 from the field and .406 from downtown. So, there is some promise for this season.

But the real promise that Nets fans will have to hold on to is the one that 2010 cap space can bring. There's a not-yet-built locker in a not-yet-built arena in Brooklyn with LeBron James' name on it.
-- John Schuhmann

Nets individual game tickets are now on sale. It's about getting the best seats and big games.

The Nets had a bunch of young guys in their rotation back in 2001 too. And then they made The Finals for the first time in franchise history. The reason was their point guard.

Now, we're not saying that Devin Harris should try to be Jason Kidd, and we're definitely not saying that the Nets are going to the Finals. But, as the guy with the ball, Harris has the ability to make the most out of his young teammates and help the Nets exceed expectations, just like Kidd did.

Josh Boone is a nice pick-and-roll player, Yi Jianlian can knock down the open jumper and Sean Williams can flat out sky. But none of them can create their own shot. Vince Carter is an underrated passer, and he'll definitely create shots for those guys, but as noted above, the Nets' offense will start with Harris.

Harris' numbers reflected the freedom he was given when he arrived in New Jersey in February. He dished out an additional 1.2 assists per game with the Nets and scored 1.0 points more, even though his shooting percentage went down and his ankle was not at 100 percent. At 25 years old, healthy, and in his fifth season, Harris' numbers should continue to rise.

On the other side of the ball, Harris can spark the Nets' defense, which has fallen off precipitously in recent years, with tenacious ball pressure.

As with any other team, there are dozens of variables that will determine how successful the Nets are in 2007-08. But none are a bigger part of the equation than the play of Devin Harris.
-- John Schuhmann

67.4 The Nets assisted on 67.4 percent of their field goals last season, leading the league.
Vince Carter is a classic example of a player with a ton of talent but doesn't bring it every night. The fact that his two best friends are now long gone could make this a particularly long season for VC.
Devin Harris is a nice point guard but the Nets are very limited on the offensive end.
Yi Jianlian has some athletic skills but is a couple of steps down from Richard Jefferson.
The Lottery looks like their best chance to get back to the playoffs and they may have to visit it a couple of years in a row before they turn this thing around.
-- NBA Scout
Devin Harris' numbers were up across-the-board after the trade that brought him to Springsteen country a fact made more impressive given that he spent some of his Net tenure rehabbing a series of ankle injuries. Post-trade, he averaged over 15 points, six assists, three boards and nearly one-and-a-half steals per game.

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Record: 37-45, 10th in Eastern Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: V. Carter, 20.0 PPG
Rebounding Leader: Y. Jianlian, 7.5 RPG
Assist Leader: D. Harris, 7.8 APG

Simulated Season Details
PG Devin Harris 14.8 2.7 5.8
SG Vince Carter 21.3 6.0 5.1
SF Bobby Simmons 7.6 3.2 1.1
PF Yi Jianlian 8.6 5.2 0.8
C Josh Boone 8.2 7.3 0.8

G Keyon Dooling 8.1 1.4 1.8
F Jarvis Hayes 6.7 2.2 0.8
C Brook Lopez -- -- --
F Eduardo Najera 5.9 4.3 1.2
F-C Sean Williams 5.6 4.4 0.4
F Ryan Anderson Draft
G Keyon Dooling Trade
F Jarvis Hayes Free agent
C Brook Lopez Draft
F Eduardo Najera Free agent
F Bobby Simmons Trade
F Yi Jianlian Trade
G Darrell Armstrong Free agent
C DeSagana Diop Free agent
F-C Nenad Krstic Free agent
F Bostjan Nachbar Free agent
G Marcus Williams Trade
RPG Josh Boone 7.3
APG Devin Harris 6.5
SPG Devin Harris 1.36
BPG Sean Williams 1.45
Points Scored 95.8 (25th)
Points Allowed 100.9 (17th)
Field-Goal Percentage .443 (26th)
Opponents' FG% .456 (12th)
Rebounding Diff. +0.24 (17th)
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