Thursday, September 15, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up for the 2005-06 NBA Season - #27

A Healthy New Jersey Nets Team

While almost everyone seems set on penciling in either Miami or Indiana as their ’05-06 Eastern Conference champ, there’s a team in New Jersey that may have something to say about that. Yes I’m talking about the Nets, an organization just three years removed from the NBA Finals and boasting perhaps their deepest and most explosive team in franchise history. Sure Miami added depth in acquiring Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, James Posey, Wayne Simien, and quite possibly Gary Payton. The same could be said for an Indiana club that brought in Euro stud Sarunas Jasikevicius and Danny Granger, while of course getting back Ron Artest from suspension. And while those transactions may make the Heat and Pacers the clear cut favorites on paper, trust me New Jersey should not be too far behind, if at all. Take a look at their depth chart:

PG-Jason Kidd, Jeff McInnis
SG-Vince Carter, Antoine Wright
SF-Richard Jefferson, Linton Johnson
PF-Marc Jackson, Scott Padgett, Clifford Robinson
C-Nenad Krstic, Jason Collins

Now even to the naked eye this lineup seems somewhat inferior to those in Miami and Indiana, but don’t be quick to make a paper champion. Here are my three reasons why New Jersey has a legitimate shot to snatch the East right from under everyone’s noses.

1) Jason Kidd. This could be the veteran PG’s best chance at a title thus far in his brilliant 11-year career. Add to it that he’s coming off a frustrating injury-plagued season a year ago, and we should expect #5 to be as focused as ever. Think about this, Kidd averaged 9.9 assists in his 01-02 Finals season balling around guys like Kerry Kittles, Keith Van Horn, and Kenyon Martin. Now give him scorers like Carter and Jefferson slashing from opposite wings, a budding low-post star in Krstic, and a solid backup (finally!) in McInnis, and Kidd could post his best distribution numbers to date. You think he liked missing 16 games due to injury last season? You think he enjoyed playing at just 50-75% for much of the year? You think he’s going to let weaker point guards such as Jaskikevicius/Tinsley or Williams/Payton steal his thunder? Being the gambling man that I am, I wouldn’t dare bet against a determined Kidd and the weapons he has surrounding him. Speaking of those weapons…

2) The Carter/Jefferson tandem. Obviously there is no calculation to how lethal this duo could be together, but let’s assume the best and that they both stay injury-free. Let us look at it from an opposing team’s standpoint: who will defenders key on more? Carter? Okay, then expect Jefferson to be just as good as the guy who dropped 22+ per game before the Chauncey Billups cheap shot. Jefferson? VC dropping 40 is like you or me making a sandwich. Try and play zone, this team will light you up from the outside not only with Carter (40.6% from 3), but with the rookie Wright (44.7% last season at Texas A&M), Padgett (38.8 career 3-Pt FG %), and of course, Kidd and RJ (when they’re hot). And remember even if a team finds some way to contain both VC and RJ, Jason Kidd will somehow find a way to exploit any defense. Perhaps Miami could control these two with Posey and Wade, but let me ask you, who’s going to shut down Kidd? Payton? J-Will? C’mon now…

3) The emergence of Krstic. Now sure, Shaq was sitting out last year’s first round match up against the Nets when the rookie dropped 18.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG (Note: this is incorrect. O'Neal did play all four games, averaging 33.0 minutes per. Must have been too focused on the Celts series, my bad). But seriously, how many rookies can come in (especially centers) and display that type of consistency in his first Playoff series? During the regular season count me amongst the Krstic doubters, but watching the young Euro play last May, we have no choice but to recognize his budding game. If defenses decide to go small to keep up with NJ’s up-tempo style of play, expect Lawrence Frank to get Nenad a consistent amount of touches down low, if anything to keep the opposition honest.

The bottom line is that I don’t see anyone in the Conference who can keep up with Kidd, VC, and RJ if they stay healthy. This team could very well turn into the Phoenix Suns of the East and consistently blow teams out of the water. The problem is, when a team commits to playing a run-n-gun type of game all year long one has to worry about mounting injuries, especially with a 32 year-old PG running the show. However, look at what Lawrence Frank did with this team last season when many experts had them pegged for 30-35 wins (at best). I fully expect him to keep Kidd healthy and rested all season (now that they have McInnis) while working to maintain a solid inside game with Krstic and Jackson. While it’s easy to simply pick Miami or Indiana to run away with the East, I’ll take my chances in NJ with a solid coach, a determined PG, and perhaps the best scoring duo in the League. 27 days from now you’ll begin to see where I’m coming from.


At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NJ will get destroyed in the playoffs for the same reason they'll win the Atlantic. No depth. Just like their division has one good team and then a bunch of crap, their own roster has just a few quality players and then a bunch of crap.


At 10:47 PM, Blogger EZ Snappin said...

Pardon - they do have depth!

Left out of Anthony's rotation are SF/SG Lamond Murray, who can fill it up in limited minutes (and is well rested from his pine-riding days in Toronto); SG/SF Zoran Planinic who should be better in his second year; and at Guard Jacque Vaughn, who may not have been great last year but can get minutes as Wright adapts to his rookie campaign.

They need another banger - none of their bigs are low post muscle men - but otherwise they look pretty sharp. Uncle Cliffy, Jackson and Padgett pull out opposing bigs by hitting the 18 footer, thus leaving the paint open for guard penetration. Stopping the initial break won't hamstring their offense like it did so often in the K-Mart years.

I think you're correct on this one Anthony.

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're not too scary, because they depend on a guy named Vince Carter... who is soft and is a tool.

And I don't have to say what a soft tool might be, do I?

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've used a lot of soft tools, you moron. VC soft? Did you watch ANY games last year? I think he proved he was tough and able to carry a team on his back if needed. Get a clue. You obviously know nothing about the game or the Nets or VC.

That said, NJ will be a huge contender for the East title this year. I still think Miami will win it all, but NJ will no doubt give them a run for their money. And let's not forget about the up and coming Cavs, who made several good off-season acquisitions.

2005-06 is going to be an exciting year in the East. Go Nets.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

all the negative feedback....must be knick fans crying about being the laughingstock of the n.b.a. for the last 5 years...don't worry knick fans , larry will get you 35 wins and then he'll be gone, not wanting to be associated with such a pathetic organization from top(isiah) to bottom (jason kidd just stepped-on marbury again.)

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

there is a major flaw here. in the paragraph about Krstic's stats against the Heat in the playoffs, it says that Shaq didn't play, but that is false. Krstic got those impressive number with Shaq on the floor. He did play in that series!

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thankyou doug he got those numbers against shaq and and zo, very impressive for a rookie for most centers i should say.

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell yeah!!! Go NETS!

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Nets ...with their great DEPTH...are being seriously underestimated by a whole lot of folks. Cant wait till the season begins!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Karakash said...

ok, i also think that the Nets will win their division, but that says more about the quality of the Atlantic, not about that of the Nets. They'r ok, and will be 3.rd in the East, but that's it. If Rod Torn had any brain left he would have signed Reef, and with him they could have competed for another trip to to the Finals, but now...Indiana, Miami, Detroit, plus the new-look Cavs, i don't think so.
Their fastbreak will be really good, though.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Actually, I think if anyone would do a good job stopping Kidd it would be Payton. Dont forget that no pg in this league has played Kidd more often than Payton, no pg in this league knows Kidd better than Payton and nobody will try with more intensity against Kidd than Payton. Yes, he's not the same Payton as he was, but he still has that connection with Kidd and i'm sure he will do a good job against Kidd. However, Kidd will play with as much intensity vice versa. Last season he had 15 ppg, 9 apg, 7 rpb and 3 spg while shooting 35% vs. the Celtics.

I dont think J-Will will stand a chance defensively against a healthy Kidd.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous JImmhumm said...

Nets will be entertaining but will get smashed by Miami AND Indiana AND Detriot becuase they have inside scoring and these teams CAN play defense. Kidd was getting burned by Wade last year, Carter ain't dunking on Shaq and RJ is a lifetime second option. They may beat the 76ers and that's about it. They'll finish 5th in the east......If they're healthy.


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