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admin 28.03.2016

As I wrote in my optimistic guide for the Nets’ season, Jarrett Jack is arguably the most important player on this year’s Brooklyn squad.
After a sluggish start to the season, the Nets’ floor general seems to have recovered from his hamstring injury that sidelined him during the preseason and opening night. The Nets are suddenly confident, playing with some momentum and much of that is attributed to the Jack’s productive play and leadership.
Aside from his effective shooting from long range over this stretch, what’s most impressive is his assist to turnover ratio, which registers at nearly 6 to 1. Obviously Brooklyn is not a title contender and the truth is they are highly unlikely to be playing any postseason basketball.
Whether it will be a younger, inexperienced team in the playoff hunt or a contender in need of backcourt depth, there should be a market that develops for a backup, veteran point guard in the months to come. As for Jack, he is a seasoned veteran who has proven in the past that he can elevate his performance in a high-pressured, postseason environment.
Jack is owed $6.3 million next year but there is a $500 thousand buyout at the end of this year. There will certainly be those forgettable nights, but if he can provide this type of production for the most part and lead the Nets to being a respectable opponent, then perhaps other organizations will take notice.
At last year’s trading deadline, Washington was reportedly willing to deal a first round pick to Brooklyn for the Nets’ backup point guard. The jury has already made up its mind before the case can even be heard – the upcoming season won’t be kind to the Brooklyn Nets. With this being said, is there any hope on the horizon? Is there a way to view the glass as half-full?
For the first time in the Brooklyn Era, the Nets will enter the season with some semblance of continuity. Lionel Hollins has stated his intentions to build a tough, blue-collar team that puts an emphasis on defense. To say that the first half of the 2014-15 season was tumultuous for Brook Lopez is a gross understatement, whether it was inconsistent production, public criticism from his coach, losing his starting job, or being mentioned in trade rumors. Scoring 20 points per game is nothing new for Lopez, but the improved rebounding rate and overall ferociousness around the rim was a pleasant sight for Nets fans. When the Nets decided to divorce their unhappy star, Deron Williams, there was relief to many but remorse to some. If you put the numbers aside, Williams lacked the intangibles necessary to be an effective leader.
Now entrusted with the starting job, Jarrett Jack will be counted on to provide the team with a steady, confident floor general.
Jack’s cool demeanor, quiet confidence, and overall better health are what set him apart from his former teammate.
The Nets, like every team, experienced their fair share of roster turnover during the offseason. The Nets didn’t make any big splashes this offseason and it’s possible that the players brought in to fill the voids have higher upsides and could be more effective than their respective predecessors. You could make the case that Anderson was the biggest loss of the offseason as he was arguably the heart and soul of the team a year ago. With the exception of a torrid stretch from December through January, Plumlee really struggled during the second half of the season. These limitations proved to be costly, as he couldn’t stretch the floor not to mention his poor free throw shooting made him a complete liability.
Make no mistake, this season will be an uphill battle but perhaps the doom and gloom many are predicting won’t come to fruition.
Certainly the first half of the season wasn’t pretty, but Brooklyn did finish the season strong by winning 17 out of their final 30 games. With the negativity and distractions gone, perhaps the Nets can continue to build upon what they started last year.
The schedule makers weren’t so kind to the Brooklyn Nets and now the prognosticators are following suit.
On the surface it’s difficult to look at the data and build a case that the Nets are a better team sans D-Will. Jack’s per game statistics appear similar whether Williams was inactive or on the bench, but it’s worth noting that his assist to turnover ratio was significantly better when Williams wasn’t available.
If Jack was scoring and distributing at an effective rate, then why did the Nets struggle with him at the helm?
The starting lineup that surrounded Jack during those games was much different than the lineup that led the post all-star break surge, which resulted in a 17-13 record and a postseason berth.
Thaddeus Young wasn’t in Brooklyn yet and the lineup featured a Kevin Garnett-Mason Plumee pairing at the power forward and center positions.
On KG’s “rest games” an inconsistent Brook Lopez took his place and we all know how that Lopez-Plumee duo mixed like oil and water. During the stretch of games in which Williams was inactive, there wasn’t a viable backup to give Jack a breather, unless you felt Darius Morris was that guy.
The Nets’ identity was still being determined and as a whole they hadn’t hit their stride yet. Yes, Bojan Bogdanovic and Lopez were key producers leading up to the playoffs but it’s important to remember how inconsistent these two were during the first half of the season. Basketball is a team sport so is it truly fair to pin blame on one particular player if his teammates are struggling mightily? It may seem like I’m wearing rose-colored glasses while writing this, however, I am not oblivious to the warts in his game such as his propensity to take low percentage shots as well as his shortcomings on the defensive end. Now entrusted with the starting job it’s up to Jack to play with the type of discipline and control that a floor general needs to possess.
Jack may be less talented than his former teammate but you cannot deny the intangibles that cannot be quantified such as mental toughness, likability, and “clutchness”.
It won’t be smooth sailing but with their core intact and a confident floor general running the offense, perhaps the Nets can build off of how they finished the 2014-15 season and surpass the low expectations the pundits are predicting. How uninspiring play from Deron Williams should open the door for Brooklyn’s backup point guard.
A year ago, with a sense that the series was slipping away, Jason Kidd made a bold decision and replaced Shaun Livingston with Alan Anderson in the starting lineup. Just like how the quarterback is the most important position in football, the point guard is vital to a team’s success in basketball.
Now, I know what you are all thinking – the Nets are a better basketball team when D-Will is running the show. Williams may have a better assist to turnover ratio than Jack, however, a 2 to 1 ratio is hardly elite. With Williams starting, the Nets have come out flat in both games, while falling behind by double-digits early.
It just seems that all of Williams’ mistakes swing the momentum drastically in Atlanta’s favor. Jack may play with a reckless abandon, however, his poor decision-making seems to come from too much confidence in himself. Deron will continue to say the right things, like having to play better and being more aggressive, but at this point, actions speak louder than words. Many will say that his demise is physical but there’s no denying the mental component in all of this as well. With the stakes high and the margin of error so slim, the Nets cannot afford to be led by a point guard with shaky confidence. If that’s the case, then Lionel Hollins has no choice but to give the lion’s share of the minutes to the player who looks like he wants the ball in his hands and eager to take over the game.
Ask yourself this question –With a playoff series being a battle between two sides and from what you have witnessed the past two years, which player would you rather be in a foxhole with? It’s a crazy idea to think that it has come to this point, but what good is it to stay on a sinking ship at the most crucial time?
It’s a difficult decision to make but the Nets cannot afford to get out of the gate slowly on Saturday. Twelve months ago things seemed different as the Brooklyn Nets appeared to have experienced the best off-season in franchise history. For the Nets heading into the upcoming season, the number eight seems to be the number of significance. Most people have focused on the personnel losses of Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce but perhaps the biggest acquisition for this year will be the return of their All-Star center, Brook Lopez.
The Nets did salvage their season a year ago after Lopez was injured; however, his absence from the lineup was most felt during the second round against Miami when scoring droughts became the norm during crunch time. There’s a population of fans out there that believe the team may be better off without Lopez, as they view him as someone who slows down the pace on the offensive end.
The last time Lopez missed the bulk of a season, he returned to play in 74 games the following year and earned an All-Star appearance. To Nets fans everywhere, the “Deron Williams Experience” has been nothing more than frustration and disappointment. Well since he arrived in Newark, there has been ailment upon ailment that has prevented him from performing at the elite level, which we saw consistently in Utah. For years, Williams has put off the necessary surgery to clean up the bone spurs in his ankles. There’s no denying that when Shaun Livingston signed with Golden State earlier this summer, it was a disappointing day for NetsNation.

What sets him apart from Livingston is that opposing defenses can’t ignore him on the perimeter. With Jack, the Nets acquired a player who is battletested and has performed well in the postseason once before.
When Jason Kidd forced his way to Milwaukee, many fans felt shock and betrayal by their favorite all-time Net.
With Hollins, Brooklyn has now a respected coach with a proven track record of success in the NBA. For years the Nets have sought after someone or something that will help develop toughness in a team that at times has seemed soft. There will be an adjustment period for the players to adapt to a new coach and system, but the early growing pains will be worth it in the long run.
It’s playoff time and we should take a look at who the best coaches in the Association really are. Coached the Seattle Supersonics to the 1996 NBA Finals before losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Coached the Denver Nuggets to their best regular season record in the franchise’s NBA history in 2013 when the team finished 57-25.
Coached the Western Conference in the NBA  All Star Game in 1994, 1996 and 1998 as head coach of the Supersonics, and again in 2010 as coach of the Nuggets.
Has shown to be adaptable depending on personal based on team personalities with Seattle who were defensive minded, then later with Milwaukee and Denver who very good offensive teams. Broke into coaching immediately after his playing career as an assistant coach to San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Doug Moe in 1978. His Seattle Supersonics in 1994 were the first number one seeded team in NBA history to lose a first round match up to an eight seeded team. Every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this web site is correct and accurate. Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.
He is the team’s x-factor, as his play will ultimately determine whether the Nets can compete on a nightly basis or not.
His performance over the last four games has improved dramatically, and to no surprise Brooklyn looks exponentially better. Certainly it’s an extremely small sample size, but ten games into the season the numbers show that he is distributing more and turning it over less. It may be surprising to some but after ten games, Jack is statistically outperforming his former teammate who now resides in Dallas.
If Jack can sustain this level of production for a good portion of the season the Nets may find themselves with more wins (and moral victories) than expected, which may present a golden opportunity to the franchise. For all his warts that make him the whipping boy for the NBA analytics community, there’s no denying that there are some aspects of his game that cannot be quantified. With no long term financial commitment attached to him, perhaps a playoff team would part with a future asset, whether it’s a first or second rounder to bolster their roster. After all, watching Jack catch fire and dominate stretches of a game (not to mention the occasional late game heroics) is nothing new with him. The Nets felt their own playoff run in the present was more valuable than replenishing their empty draft cupboard. There were no wholesale changes during the offseason, former superstars don’t need to be integrated, and the voice of leadership will sound identical to the one who last coached them.
Where in the past when it was questioned whose team it was, it has never been any clearer than it is now that Brook Lopez is the face of the franchise.
With a philosophy finally in place, the Nets acquired players this offseason that fit the type of system he envisions for Brooklyn. Unfortunately, many underestimated the amount of rust that built up from missing virtually an entire season. With the situation looking bleak, Lopez silenced his doubters and performed at a level never seen before in a Nets uniform.
It was this stretch where he earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week award twice and carried the team on his back into the postseason.
If he can duplicate the same level of intensity this year, he will not just be selected to represent Brooklyn in the All-Star Game but he may be able to single handedly lift the Nets into the playoff picture. His surly attitude apparently rubbed people the wrong way and even with the trio of Williams, Lopez, and Joe Johnson playing multiple seasons together, chemistry always seemed out of sorts. As I noted here, Jack needs to embrace the role of being more of a distributor than a scorer.
He is a player who is well liked by his peers and in team sports it’s important not to diminish how one bad apple can spoil it for everyone.
Aside from the aforementioned Williams, Brooklyn did lose two rotational players in Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee. If you examine his replacement in Wayne Ellington you will see comparable production and a player who is entering his physical prime at the age of 27 as opposed to Anderson who is 33.
During his two years in Brooklyn, he established himself as an exciting dunker but failed to really improve the other facets of his game. The Croatian rookie struggled mightily prior to the All-Star Game as he saw himself in and out of the starting lineup. Not only did his shooting drastically improve, Bogdanovic displayed the qualities of a clutch performer who didn’t melt under the bright spotlight.
Assuming this ailment doesn’t linger, Bodganovic should take the next step in his development now that the rookie jitters are out of his system and he’s more accustomed to the NBA game. Yes, there are many factors working against them, but there are also some elements that work in their favor. The acquisition of Thaddeus Young definitely helped, but the team finally appeared to buy into Hollins’ message.
Many are predicting a season of doom and gloom, which will result in a giftwrapped lottery pick delivered to Danny Ainge’s office. Critics have also pointed out Brooklyn’s record when Jack was the starter last season as a reason for pessimism. After all, they went 11-16 overall when Jack was the starter but 4-10 when Williams was inactive.   A 27-game sample should be enough evidence to form a conclusion about Jack as the starter, but is it possible that the results and statistics are misleading? Are there other factors to consider as to why the Nets only won 41% of the games in which he was their starter? The result was a heavy workload for Jack in which he played on average of 38 minutes per night.
This was a time when Lionel Hollins was still experimenting with players like Sergey Karasev in the starting lineup. Lopez was a shell of himself as he worked the rust off his game, whereas Bogdanovic appeared to be a rookie lost and lacking confidence. Overall, there should be better chemistry without the negative energy Williams seemed to emit.
Yes, the numbers from the regular season do support that claim, but this isn’t the regular season anymore. When you are an overmatched 8th seeded team, that struggled to even qualify for the postseason, you simply cannot afford to climb out of these early deficits against a 60-win juggernaut on their home court.
Down 7-2 early, it was his lazy pass that was stolen by Jeff Teague, which led to a fast-break, alley-oop to Paul Millsap.
The last time Jack was in the postseason, he was a member of the 2013 Golden State Warriors and played an instrumental role in their first round upset of the third seeded Denver Nuggets. What’s amazing is that his 1-7, 2 point output on Wednesday was actually not his worst moment.
When you routinely say one thing, and the results don’t change, those words eventually lose their value. Even YES Network’s color-commentator, Donny Marshall echoed the words of ESPN’s Jay Williams when he said that D-Will was “not engaged” in the game. In a way, his approach on the court is similar to Rocky Balboa in Rocky III following his knockout to Clubber Lang.
Jack may be limited in his skill-set, but if the Nets are going down in this series, then I prefer to see them going down swinging. He may be one of their most expensive players on their roster, but if you recall Joe Torre did a similar thing when he dropped Alex Rodriguez to eighth in the batting order during the 2006 MLB playoffs when it was obvious that the Yankee third baseman had lost all of his confidence. They need that spark that will play with an edge, inspire his teammates, and ignite the home crowd. Gaping holes in the roster seemed to have been filled and a championship pedigree was instilled into a current playoff team. No I’m not referring to Deron Williams but the Eastern Conference seeding ESPN predicted earlier this summer.
If this surgery can prevent the recurring problems moving forward, similarly to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, then maybe the 26 year-old can continue to develop into one of the better centers in the league under Lionel Hollins’s tutelage. When the former all-star was acquired from the Utah Jazz, many believed that the organization had traded for arguably the best point guard in the game.
Aside from the wrist issues, Deron’s ankles have played a major role in hindering his ability in what seems like a complete erosion of skills topped off with a total lack of confidence. Through rest and PRP treatment, the Nets saw their point guard play at an elite level during the second half of the 2013 season. Pundits have shed light on his underachievement and many fans have essentially written him off.

After all, it was his emergence that helped spark the team’s turnaround when the season seemed totally lost. As we saw throughout the regular and postseasons, defenses challenged Livingston to shoot from the outside, an area where he clearly lacks confidence and competence. Although it was a disappointment at the time, the Nets seem to be in a better position today and moving into the future with Lionel Hollins at the helm. In Memphis, he led the transformation of a run-of-the-mill team into a force to be reckoned with. That type of mindset comes from leadership, and Hollins is the type of coach that can instill it in his players. It wasn’t a flashy hire as it was a year ago, but this time management seemed to have gotten it right.
Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat: Yes, Coach Spo has one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, but the man deserves a lot of credit for his success with the Heat since 2008.
Lionel Hollins, Memphis Grizzlies: This one may come as a surprise, but Hollins is a perfect example of a coach that put implemented a system and watched it excel over time. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls: Simply put, Tom Thibodeau is the best defensive mind in basketball. Free, Chris Mullin, Sleepy Floyd, Ralph Sampson, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Ricky Pierce, Detlef Schrempf, Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Glen Robinson, Michael Redd, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Miller, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Steve Blake, J.R. Team included notable players Elton Brand, Paul Pierce, Andre Miller, Ben Wallace, Baron Davis to name a few.
The Sonics were 63-19, tops in the Western Conference, and lost 3 games to 2 against Dikembe Mutombo and the eigth seeded Denver Nuggets. If you hold a copyright to a specific photo please contact us and it will be removed promptly. If it weren’t for some late game mishaps, the Nets could’ve returned home on a three game winning streak with victories over the two Western Conference Finalists from a season ago. In fact, his assist rate so far is the highest of his ten-year career and his turnover percentage is his second lowest. If Billy King is presented with that scenario, then he needs to capitalize on it because Jack clearly isn’t in the long-term plans, especially with the Nets expected to address the point guard position during the 2016 free agency. With him being the primary offensive weapon, everyone else can now settle into their complementary roles. The Nets have gotten an infusion of athletic youth, which should improve (and mask) some of the deficiencies of their prominent players on that end of the court. How he executes the pick-and-roll with Lopez and sets up others may just be the ultimate x-factor in whether the Nets are competitive or downright putrid this season.
This is usually the case with the NBA where the roster is so small and chemistry can be easily disrupted by a single negative force. The others who won’t be back at Barclays include: Earl Clark, Darius Morris, Mirza Teletovic, Jerome Jordan, and Cory Jefferson. His replacement in Thomas Robinson is far from perfect, but his overall ceiling could be much higher than Plumlee’s. This was apparent during the regular season finale when he put the team on his shoulders and sparked a dramatic comeback victory when a loss seemed imminent. Whether he starts or not, he can and should be an effective complementary scorer who can help stretch the floor. They became a tougher, more cohesive group and actually competed admirably in the playoffs when no one gave them a chance. In terms of his defensive woes, perhaps having a better cast of athletes around will help mask those deficiencies.
Heading into a pivotal Game 3, down 0-2 in the series, perhaps it’s time for Lionel Hollins to make a bold decision of his own. It may only be two games, but to me I have seen enough to decide that the Nets’ best chances of getting back into this series is by replacing their broken, franchise point guard in Deron Williams with their fearless backup in Jarrett Jack.
Now in the playoffs, the stakes are higher, the spotlight is brighter, and after two games it’s obvious that the Nets are a more confident team with Jack on the floor. Right there, the game felt as if it was teetering on the brink of spiraling out of control.
Williams, on the other hand, plays with a tentativeness that gives off the impression that he is afraid to make a mistake at this point. That distinction occurred a year ago when he went scoreless on nine shot attempts during Game 2 of the second round against Miami. The optimists who believe that “this will get D-Will going” are constantly left disappointed. With all of the criticism pouring in, Williams continues to validate Paul Pierce’s claims by shrinking under the intense scrutiny. The difference here is that this isn’t Hollywood and Williams seems unlikely to recapture the “eye of the tiger” anytime soon. There’s no longer a “Big Five” and the hype that accompanies being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
A lot has changed and after a tumultuous offseason many NBA prognosticators see more doom and gloom for the team from Atlantic Avenue.
However, an offensive big-man who can score efficiently from almost anywhere in the half-court is certainly a luxury many teams would sign up for. Once again a superstar, playmaking floor-general would transform the laughingstock franchise from New Jersey.
This was most apparent during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, when Williams scored zero points against the Miami Heat, a total no one could have ever foreseen from the former All-Star. Perhaps there’s too much wear and tear on Deron’s wheels to return to elite status; however, if the surgery reduces or eliminates the pain, then perhaps he can return to being a highly effective NBA point guard. With all of this criticism he has endured over the past two years, I would expect Williams to enter this season with a chip on his shoulder. For all the positives in his game, at times it felt as if he was a liability on the offensive end during the Toronto series – somewhat reminiscent of Reggie Evans.
Perhaps a change of scenery can get Jack playing at the level he was at prior to his pit stop in Cleveland.
The Grizzlies improved upon their regular season winning percentage in four consecutive years and experienced deep playoff runs in a highly competitive Western Conference. Since Spo was named head coach, the Heat have gone 260-134, making the playoffs in every season and competing in the last two NBA Finals. Since his first head-coaching job with the Cavaliers in 1984, he has only missed the playoffs once.
After serving as an assistant for the Celtics’ championship run, Thibs brought big time basketball back to Chicago.
It was Williams who lost DeMarre Carroll on a backdoor cut with under a minute left and the Nets trailing by a single point, which seemed to suck the life out of the Nets’ comeback bid. When your floor general is playing with a passive demeanor, how can your team dictate the tone? Now that Williams has undergone the surgery on his ankles this offseason, the Nets organization and fan base can only hope that these procedures can restore the health and confidence in their fallen star. The days of 22 and 10 may be a thing of the past, but a consistent 18 and 8 with sound decision-making and good health would be a welcomed sight for fans and the team.
If there’s a competitive spirit still within, Brooklyn should have a hungry, determined player running the point. What they bring to the court is obviously not the same; however, Jack is versatile in that he too can assume either role in the backcourt. Livingston also seemed to be rattled against the Raptors on the defensive end when he committed several errant fouls while opposing players were attempting jump shots. Had there not been a change in the team’s ownership, perhaps Hollins would still be building what he had started. Most impressively, the Heat have been one of the best defensive teams in the league, finishing in the top ten in defensive efficiency the last 4 seasons.
Lets keep in mind that Memphis is a smaller market and consistently has one of the lower payrolls in the league (they were 25th this year). No, none of Karl’s teams have ever won it all, but he has serious potential with his current young Nuggets team. Poppovich has won four championships and the Spurs will continually be a lock to finish top three in the West as long as he’s in charge.
The fact that recent photographs show him looking svelte is a definitely a step in the right direction. Look for the Grizz to keep improving with Hollins in charge, playing the “Grit & Grind” style of ball. Karl is one of just seven coaches to have 1,000 NBA wins along with Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkins, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, and Larry Brown, not a bad list to be on. In what is now considered a young man’s game, Pop has kept his older core of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, while plugging in a variety of other players to fill in his unique system (ie Matt Bonner, Danny Green, etc.). At this point, Pop just does what he wants, even sending home his four best players right before a nationally televised game against the Heat.

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