Danny Johnston/Associated Press
The defensive scheme that Hollins installed with the Grizzlies isn't all that different from the one so many other teams around the league use: Tom Thibodeau's strong-side zone defense.
Hollins did add his own ripples to the strong-side zone. Gasol basically improvised his pick-and-roll coverage, sometimes sagging back and sometimes covering up high depending on how he read the play, though Lopez likely won't understand screen-and-roll defense as intuitively as Gasol (because who does?).
Hollins' Grizzlies teams swarmed the ball like crazy and aggressively went after steals. But of course, it's easier to play a high-risk (at times) fashion of basketball when you have defenders like Allen, Gasol and Conley at your disposal.
As Ryan Carbain of the Brooklyn Game explains, the coaching transition on defense may not be a huge one for the Nets:
The Nets are not new to this zone. Lawrence Frank, as assistant coach, defensive coordinator, and pre-reporter last season, tried installing Thibodeau zone principles with little success. The Nets hit their stride later in the season, after Lopez went down due to injury, utilizing some of the zone’s concepts while playing a much more aggressive pick-and-roll defense.
As Carbain noted, we shouldn't necessarily expect the Nets to replicate those Grizzlies defenses completely. After all, there is a serious difference in caliber of personnel:
While the Nets guards and wing defenders can fit the Thibodeau system, their abilities project them as more conservative than Hollins's Grizz-n-Grind. Few rosters boast an on-the-ball agitator like Tony Allen, and losing Shaun Livingston marks the loss of a Conley-type on defense -- a rare guard who can gamble for a steal and recover in time to erase a mistake. No guard on the roster makes up for that: Andrei Kirilenko is the closest, an able defender who can cover multiple positions, but lacks the foot speed to compete with guards up top that closely.
Hollins mended a dominant scheme in Memphis, no question. But he also had three All-Defense-caliber starters, something he seriously lacks in Brooklyn. But that said, the Nets defense was inconsistent last year, finishing 19th in points allowed per possession without Lopez for much of the year, and if Hollins can teach his starting center, who did average 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes in his last healthy season, to become somewhat of an anchor, that's a game-changer.
Hollins didn't just turn Gasol into a player; he also became the first coach to get Randolph to play actual defense, though Gasol polished himself into the perfect complementary defender for Z-Bo's physical and sometimes overly aggressive style in the post. And if Lopez improves, the team defense probably will with him.
Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in fifth grade, but he maintains that his per-36-minute numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at RotoWire.com, WashingtonPost.com or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network at ClipperBlog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are current as of August 3 and courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.