NBA Prediction 2011-12: New Jersey Nets Starter's Projected Stats
The Nets starting five will contain a couple new faces and a ton of question marks.
What should we expect from Deron Williams in a full season with the team?
Will Brook Lopez learn to rebound?
Here is my take on the five players most likely to kick off the season for the New Jersey Nets.
PG Deron Williams
Warren Little/Getty Images
In his 12 game stint with the Nets last season, Deron Williams put up some unusual numbers. Williams managed only 15.6 points per contest, but recorded an astounding 12.6 assists.
While some of his shooting woes were undoubtedly due to his injured wrist, defenses also paid more attention to Williams due to his lack of offensive support.
With the current Nets roster, there is no reason why defenses should be applying any less pressure. While the All-Star point guard may see a sustained dip in scoring, no defense can control his uncanny ability to create on offense.
Between Brook Lopez, sharpshooter Anthony Morrow, and college scoring phenom MarShon Brooks, Williams should have plenty of opportunities to increase his assist rate.
SG Anthony Morrow
14.1 PTS 2.2 3PG .440 3P%
Anthony Morrow was one of the biggest winners in the Deron Williams trade last season. After breaking 20 points just five times before the trade, Morrow reached the mark another five times during the 16 games when Williams was on the floor.
He averaged almost 15 points per game during that period.
Morrow, the active leader in three pointer percentage, should see plenty of open looks with Deron running the point. After a bit of a disappointing campaign last year (1.9 3PG, 0.423 3P%), look for Morrow to return to his sharp-shooting self this season.
SF Damion James
9.7 PTS 3.5 REB 1.6 AST
With the recent use of the amnesty clause on Travis Outlaw, sophomore Damion James has been thrust into the starting role.
This is a spot where the Nets expect James to shine.
After showing signs of improvement last year, James broke his foot and missed a large portion of the season.
The organization has high hopes that he can develop into a solid small forward, which has been the teams weakest position since the departure of Richard Jefferson.
I really except James to develop as the season progresses. Don't be surprised to see him top 20 points here and there.
PF Shelden/Shawne/Jordan Williams
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
At the moment, the four spot is the biggest question mark on the Nets roster.
Without Kris Humphries, the Nets have been scrambling to find a body to put in his place. Currently, that body looks like Shelden Williams, who has never averaged more than 18 minutes per game in his career.
The Nets will likely employ a timeshare down low, splitting the minutes been Shelden Williams, utility man Shawne Williams, and rookie Jordan Williams. Either way, a Williams will be playing power forward for the Nets at all times, and the outlook is not too promising.
It is hard to imagine any of these three averaging more than seven or eight points.
C Brook Lopez
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
21.2 PTS 8.6 REB 1.6 BLK
After what appeared to be a disappointing season from a statistical perspective, expect Brook Lopez to come back strong and better than ever.
While Lopez was labelled "soft" for his lack of rebounding last year, it is worth noting his increase in production with Deron Williams on the floor.
Lopez managed significantly more points and rebounds with Deron running the point, and he began to look like the dominant center the Nets think he can be. I expect an improvement on both ends of the floor for Lopez this year, who should be playing with a chip on his shoulder after all of the criticism he has received.