The Brooklyn Nets have a big problem defensively, that's no secret. However, Billy King and I on different sides of the coin in thinking that the Brooklyn Nets can improve on the defensive end. There's a lot of time left for this team to grow and a lot of defensive experimentation that can be done, but they can't wait too long.
Brooklyn has been thrashed by Miami, completely collapsed against Minnesota and pulled out a win over Toronto in their home opener. Not once have the held their opponent under 100 points. There are problems that need fixed and possibly some players that need to be replaced.
First let's take a minute to point out the obvious about their defense. What, exactly, is wrong with it?
Well for starters they've got a front line that is terrible defensively. They've got Kris Humphries to grab some rebounds, but that's really his best defensive quality. Aside from rebounding he's capable of playing a mediocre defensive game on his best nights, but he's easily backed down and his footwork is best when he's boxing out.
Then there's Brook Lopez. Lopez is a wonder offensively and a legitimate scorer. However, on the other end of the floor he might as well not be there. He's a big, moving tackling sled and not much more than that. He's easily backed down and has no idea how to consistently position himself to grab rebounds.
Going down the line of the rest of the team, only three or four guys really stand out as players who are good defenders.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are pretty good on-ball defenders, Gerald Wallace is a hound dog whenever he's on the court, always pestering his man and getting a hand in on a pass or a shot, and Reggie Evans is just nasty.
The biggest problem their defense has is that they're missing Wallace, who is out on a day-to-day basis after spraining his ankle against Toronto.
Otherwise, C.J. Watson is historically a better defender than he's showed so far this season, as is Keith Bogans.
The problem is that their best defensive big man happens to be atrocious on offense. If he's out on the floor for more than 20 minutes a game, he ends up being a net loss. He's not so good defensively that he can shore them up well enough so that his offensive ineptitude is completely negated.
Brooklyn is itching for a big man that can at least finish around the basket on offense and play long enough to make a discernible difference.
Even if Zach Lowe thinks there has been some improvement in Lopez's defense so far this season there's not enough he can improve this season to make this team play well defensively.
Few players in the league mistime jumps as often, or float indecisively when a pick-and-roll is coming his way. What's worst, however, is his indecisiveness in the post. There seems to be an occasion every game when he can't decide between taking a mid-ground and hedging to stop a pass or sticking hard on his man and keeping a pass from happening.
These are things that can be fixed and working with Billy King, a smart defensive mind, is a good way to help him with that, but he's not going to turn into a show stopper overnight.
Something that I'll be interested to see is whether or not Brooklyn is able to land one of the handful of good defensive veterans without jobs.
There are two obvious guys still out there who deserve a look by Brooklyn, both of whom can help them out.
First there's Kenyon Martin. Not nearly the offensive threat he used to be, but he's still physical and athletic in the post, capable of stepping in front of cutters and altering shots quite often.
Then there's a guy who has had his problems in the past, but has always benefited the teams that give him a chance. Delonte West is not only still an effective offensive player, but he's a perimeter defender with an attitude (in a good way). There's something about the way that he plays guys that gets them frustrated, usually resulting in mental mistakes.
Unless they add someone to this team who is a legitimate defender, there's no way they can put together a defense good enough to win a title.