New Jersey Nets Complete Season Preview and Primer
Here is a detailed look at the New Jersey Nets roster for the 2011-2012 season, from the starting lineup to key bench players to players who are feeling the heat.
While the most riveting storyline of the team's season will most definitely be the impending Dwight Howard saga, there are plenty of players worth watching, most notably college phenom MarShon Brooks.
Read on for a complete breakdown of the team that will try to hold its own while waiting for Superman.
Expected Starting Lineup
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PG – Deron Williams
SG – Anthony Morrow
SF – Damion James
PF – Shelden Williams
C – Brook Lopez
The Nets will be returning most of their starting lineup from last season, save Shelden Williams at the four. Late in the season, James had already earned the nod at small forward, and coach Avery Johnson seems content with keeping him there. If the team can manage to re-sign Kris Humphries, expect to see him inserted into the starting lineup immediately.
6th Man: Shawne Williams
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Perhaps the Nets most important signing of the shortened off-season, former Knick Shawne Williams, offers the team much needed flexibility. “Shawne is a versatile player who will add a needed dimension to our frontcourt,” Nets general manager Billy King said in a press conference. “He can play inside as well as shoot the 3, and is a welcome addition to our roster.”
With the current roster full of holes, Williams should receive plenty of time at small forward and even as a stretch power forward. His productivity will be vital to the team’s success early in the season as the rotation is solidified.
Important Bench Players
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PG Jordan Farmar
SG MarShon Brooks
SF Shawne Williams
PF/C Johan Petro
PG/SG Sundiata Gaines
After losing Sasha Vujacic and Travis Outlaw, the Nets needed to find apt replacements on the bench, a tough task in a wafer thin free agent pool. Shawne Williams could prove to be a huge acquisition for the team, and everybody is anxiously waiting to see what MarShon Brooks can bring to the table.
Player with Most Pressure: Brook Lopez
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The pressure is on Lopez from all angles this season. For one, critics around the league don’t believe he can be a dominant force inside, pointing to his rather weak 6.9 rebounds per games last year.
Lopez, whose rebounding has been under the watchful eye of coach Avery Johnson during practice, admitted to “being lazy” last year, often failing to even attempt to secure a rebound.
The big man says his attitude has changed, and remains hopeful that he can be the 20-10 guy he looked like in his first two years in the league.
Let’s not forget the chip Lopez is playing with, knowing how quickly the Nets would trade him should Dwight Howard become available.
Player to Watch: MarShon Brooks
After being the second leading scorer in the nation behind Jimmer Fredette last year at Providence, MarShon Brooks fell into the Nets lap at the 25th pick.
While nobody quite knows what to expect from Brooks during his rookie campaign, the possibilities are endless. With natural scoring abilities that draw comparisons to Kobe Bryant or Nick Young, Brooks could easily light the league on fire and make a run for Rookie of the Year.
There really isn’t much standing in the way between Brooks and the starting role, so expect him to get his chance to shine this year.
Holes Left to Fill: Power Forward
Put simply, the Nets need to re-sign Kris Humphries. As of now, the depth chart at power forward consists of Shelden Williams, Johan Petro and Shawne Williams. Not one of these players are worthy of starting in this league, yet all three will see major minutes at the four spot. Last season, Humphries blossomed into a solid double-double machine, anchoring the team down low. Without his presence, the Nets will be ravaged on the block.
UPDATE: The Nets have agreed to a 1 year, $8 million deal with Humphries, shoring up their front line in time for the start of the season. The one year contract keeps the team's flexibility in tact for the next offseason should Dwight Howard become a free agent. Humphries is also be a potential asset in a trade deal.
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Last year, the Nets finished at 24-58, which translates to roughly 19-47 with the shortened season. Not much has changed with the roster, except that the team will have Deron Williams for the entire season.
Anything can happen in this jammed packed season, but it would not be unreasonable if the Nets ended the season at 24-42.
That could all change of course if the team is able to net Dwight Howard at the trade deadline, a move the front office will do anything to make.