Coming into the 2008-2009 season, the New Jersey Nets were facing a possibly-horrendous season.
Fortunately, the team from the Garden State exceeded expectations by playing being over .500 by the end of November, despite starting off 2-5.
They even stayed in the playoff picture throughout the season, before fading away at the end.
In the 2009 draft, New Jersey Nets have the No. 11 pick and it's their only one—unless they try to trade. They need to focus on getting a quality player to build around Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and Vince Carter—if he is not traded this summer. A quality player that can help put points on the board.
The Nets ranked 17th last season in PPG with 98.1. This isn't a terrible average, but Harris, Lopez, and Carter carried most of the load.
If the Nets can draft another player that can help score points alongside these three, New Jersey will be in good shape next year.
On ESPN.com, they ranked the top 100 NBA prospects in the 2009 draft. Small forward Earl Clark from Louisville (No. 15 on the list) can provide some offense for the Nets.
Clark is a Lamar Odom-type of player who has solid range and can get to the basket. However, he needs to take care of the ball better because he had as many assists as turnovers (119) last season with the Cardinals.
Another player on the list that caught my eye is Pittsburgh PF Dejuan Blair (No. 11.) Despite NBA teams being alarmed about his knee problems, Blair is very physical on the boards.
The Nets lacked in the rebound department, ranking No. 24 in the league. In his last season with the Panthers, Blair averaged 15.7 rebounds per game—and on four occasion pulled down ten or more offensive boards.
New Jersey could pair him with Brook Lopez and they could be a force on the boards.
But Blair needs to block more shots. A player that is 6'7 and 277 pounds should be averaging more than 1.1 blocks per game. It shows that he needs to work on his defense.
Also, the Nets would never draft him, but I think Tyler Hansborough would be a solid addition.
The intensity and passion he brings to the game is unbelievable. He has great strength and is able to get to the basket by overpowering his defender. Also, he has a nice shooting touch.
Unfortunately, he isn't that fast, and could get burned by NBA players. It could be difficult for him, but I still think he'd be a solid pick-up.
These are some players the Nets can take with their only pick in the NBA draft this year. New Jersey can trade some players for a pick or two, which I think is a good idea.
Maybe the Nets can get rid of Yi Jianlian and/or Sean Williams, players who haven't helped out much during their stay.
The Nets have a great point guard in Devin Harris, a veteran shooting guard in Vince Carter, and a solid developing center in Brook Lopez. If you add Dejuan Blair to the mix, the Nets will be secure in the front line.