The Brooklyn Nets aren't quite an expansion team, but the team's move to one of the five boroughs has absolutely been treated like a new beginning for the franchise. The team debuted a new logo with new uniforms and a new big three to in theory compete for an NBA title. While it's been a much better season for the Nets than recent memory (they've already equaled or bested their win total for any season since the 2006-2007 season), but it hasn't been all fun and games.
The Nets fired their head coach Avery Johnson a little over one month in to the season and at times have looked like a very mediocre team. Still, as Alex Raskin of the Wall Street Journal writes, the Nets are trying to build their franchise around two guards, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, and a skilled big man, Brook Lopez, just the way the San Antonio Spurs have done it the last decade. Former Spur and current Nets swingman Keith Bogans described that the goal behind the Nets' offense is similar to the Spurs' when he was a member of the team during the 2009-2010 season.
"You have Tony, Manu and Tim," Bogans said of the Spurs' trio of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. "Here we got Deron [Williams], Joe [Johnson] and Brook [Lopez]. You got to double team one of those guys and the ball can swing around. Somebody is gonna be open."
That's the goal. The problem with the Nets' offense right now is often when Williams, Johnson and Lopez are on the court together, so are offensive spacing killers like Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans. Makes it really hard to free up enough space for any of those three guys to operate on a consistent basis. Another issue is Brook Lopez is a very good big man, but he's no Tim Duncan, Deron Williams has been really bad this year and Joe Johnson hasn't been much better. That may be because their role players aren't very good for what the Nets want to do.
Smart move by the Nets to try to build their system on what the Spurs do, especially their offense. Head coach P.J. Carlesimo is a Gregg Popovich diciple and guys like assistant Mario Elie and Bogans also are familiar with what the Spurs do. Now they have to find the role players to surround their three All-Stars. Despite their offensive shortcomings, they're still sixth in the Eastern Conference are still have a shot of catching the New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division crown. That still means they're far from having the success of the Spurs, but given their recent history, a 45 win season means their franchise rebirth is off to a good start.
Photo: New York Daily News