The hype around the Nets and their new roster of championship-caliber players matched the fanfare that surrounded the team upon their inaugural season in Brooklyn. With new first-time head coach Jason Kidd, and the addition of players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and former Utah Jazz standout Andrei Kirilenko to a roster that included players like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, the fan base had every right to get excited about how far this collection of talent could take them.
As they joust with New York Knicks fans on popular sports radio stations, Nets fans saw their team as superior to Melo and the boys in orange and blue. HC Jason Kidd missed the first two games of the season, as he served a league suspension stemming from a single-car accident he was involved in prior to the start of last season. The team went 1-1 in those games, losing the opener in Cleveland to the Cavaliers (98-94), but winning the home-opener against the Miami Heat 101-100.
Assistant Coach Lawrence Frank manned the ship in Kidd’s absence, and is seen by most to have not given up that role. As you watch games, you can clearly see Coach Frank drawing up plays and coaching up the team, while Coach Kidd can be seen in the background of these huddles. Coach Kidd, at times, looks disconnected from the proceedings on the court, as well as distant during the postgame pressers, while continuing to trust in “the process” as he calls it.
The Nets have looked nothing like the team they were expected to be. It’s still early in the season (currently 3-7), and even though the rival Knicks are facing their own turmoil with injuries, enigmatic play and the like, supporters of the Nets are very concerned with how their team is playing. Jason Terry hasn’t provided the punch off the bench that he did while with the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. Andrei Kirilenko has suffered from back spasms that have been reported to be the worst of his career.
As far as the starting lineup is concerned, guys like Garnett and Pierce were brought in to add offense, defense, and leadership, but they weren’t brought to Brooklyn to carry the load. Both have fallen short of their career scoring and rebounding numbers so far. Pierce still has something to offer, but Garnett looks like a shell of the man that started in Boston just a season ago. Joe Johnson has always been streaky, and now that he’s being relied upon the most, he’s become his streakiest. With Brook Lopez as the only reliable starter, the Nets have come out of the blocks facing an uphill climb in order to live up to the expectations on their fan base… and the expectations of the team’s owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who’s paying the luxury tax on this expensive endeavor.
One of the biggest problems facing this team has been Deron Williams and ankles… not the ones he’s breaking on a crossover dribble or driving to the basket as he flies by opposing point guards, but the ones that’ve made him a shell of the player that thrived in Utah. Those very ankles have plagued him during parts of the last two seasons in Brooklyn’s black and white. KG and Pierce may regain their prior form, Jason Terry and AK-47 may provide the needed spark from the bench, Joe Johnson can finally put a couple of big games together… but this team will only go as far as the old Deron Williams can take them.
-Joseph Haas, HaasStyleInterpretations.com