COACH: Lawrence Frank | 2004-05: 42-40
New Jersey Nets

Carter, Kidd and Jefferson will make it an exciting year in New Jersey.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images/NBAE
Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson never got to play together at full strength last year, so they are eager to prove that they are the class of the Atlantic Division and more than just a fringe playoff team in the East. Carter and Kidd carried a shallow roster on a 15-4 run to end the season to make the playoffs last year. With Jefferson coming back, and a much deeper bench, the Nets likely wonít have to be playing any lose-or-go-home games in the regular season.

This has been the first offseason in quite a while in which Jason Kidd has been healthy and able to rest all summer. This will also be his first season in New Jersey with a legitimate back-up. Jeff McInnis was brought in to keep the Nets productive when Kidd is on the bench and to keep their star fresh for the playoffs. The addition of Lamond Murray gives them a long-range threat off the bench and Marc Jackson, Clifford Robinson and Scott Padgett give them much more frontline depth than theyíve had in the past. Antoine Wright, selected with the 15th pick in the draft, could come in and contribute right away backing up Carter and Jefferson.

One of the questions for this season will be if the Nets can get their running game going again. Jason Kidd wants to run and Richard Jefferson will be right there with him, but they need Vince Carter to learn the "get it and go" philosophy that the Nets have had since Kidd arrived. Lawrence Frank will certainly keep the team focused on defense, especially on the perimeter. New Jersey hadnít given up as many three-pointers (485) as they did last season since '96-97.

Kidd will lead, Carter will score and Jefferson will be counted on to be the guy that fills in the holes on both ends of the floor. "I've always been a defensive player that could come out and score 20 plus a game," Jefferson said. "Thatís something that Iím looking forward to doing again this year. Every year, my numbers have increased, my consistency has increased, so this year I not only want to be a defensive player, but put up 18-22 a game."

The development of Nenad Krstic will be important as well. Krstic has great hands and puts himself in great position to score, which is so important with three guys who can draw and dish like Kidd, Carter and Jefferson. Foul trouble can be a problem with him though and he needs to be more disciplined on the defensive end. Donít overlook Jason Collins, who knows his role and who has become a very tough interior defender.

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More to Prove For Carter

Carter
After some rough times in Toronto, Carter was seemingly reborn with last December's trade to New Jersey. His numbers shot up and he reestablished himself as one of the top scorers in the game. He also showed excellent court vision and used his ability to draw double-teams to get plenty of open shots for his teammates. With the trade, the franchise made a quick recovery from a rough summer and Jason Kidd was happy again in New Jersey.

Carter now needs to prove that he can sustain that level of play and help the Nets regain their spot as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. He can improve on last season by eliminating defensive lapses and by getting out on the break with Kidd and Jefferson more often.

4
THE STAT
Jason Kidd is one of only four players in NBA history with 7000 assists and 5000 rebounds. He is also fourth all-time with 67 career triple-doubles.
X&O STRENGTH

Kidd
They are by far the best team in this division. Itís not even close. They are top three or four in talent in the NBA. This is a tremendous offensive team... Bringing in Jeff McInnis to back up Jason Kidd is a big plus... They're also good defensively. They're quick... It's going to be real interesting to watch them with a full year of Carter and Jefferson.

X&O WEAKNESS
When they have to go against the dominant centers, it's a question of whether Collins and Krstic can hold up.

HEAD COACH PHILOSOPHY
They like to run. Get it into Kiddís hands and go... They jump defense a lot. They'll trap on defense.
-- Kevin Loughery (courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association)

Jason Kidd: With a well-rounded game and potent weapons at his side, Kidd is once again the best fantasy point guard.
Marc Jackson: Won't give you much in more than a couple of categories.
Video: Go inside Nets training camp
McInnis Practice
Frank
"I think they've improved dramatically over the past year. Jason Kidd always makes you a good team no matter what, and of course they get a whole year of Vince Carter. I like their team. They have scoring and a great point guard... McInnis has been a solid player every place he's been. His attitude shouldn't be a problem. Your superstar is a good guy and everybody else falls in line... They have to be the team that you choose to win that division... Krstic is going to be a solid contributor in the NBA for years to come. All those guys coming from Europe, especially the Serbians, they're solid fundamentally, they have a good feel for the game. It will be interesting to see if he's another one that steps up and has an impact in the NBA."
-- Eastern Conference scout
PLAYER/2004-05 STATS
PPG
RPG
APG
PG
14.4
7.4
8.3
SG
24.5
5.2
4.2
SF
22.2
7.3
4.0
PF
6.4
6.1
1.3
C
10.0
5.3
1.0
G
12.8
2.1
5.1
G-F
--
--
--
G
5.0
1.6
1.0
F
7.5
2.9
1.5
C
12.0
5.0
1.0
C
Trade
F
Free agent
G
Free agent
G-F
Free agent
F
Free agent
G-F
Draft
G
Free agent
G-F
Free agent
G
Waived
F
Free agent
F-C
Free agent
G
Free agent
PPG
27.5
RPG
7.4
APG
8.3
SPG
1.86
BPG
0.89
Points Scored
91.4
(29th)
Points Allowed
92.9
(6th)
Field-Goal Percentage
.429
(29th)
Opponents' FG%
.439
(9th)
Rebounding Diff.
-1.64
(24th)
Nov. 2 vs. Milwaukee (7:30 p.m. ET, YES)
The Nets start the season against No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut and the improved Bucks.
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