First Impressions: A Look at The New Jersey Nets' First Week Of Preseason Action

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2010

While New Jersey did have some trouble last week, they do seem to be improving.
While New Jersey did have some trouble last week, they do seem to be improving.

The New Jersey Nets were not able to get the high profile free agents they and their fans were hoping for this summer, but they did their best to acquire players who could help them improve in some key areas.

Based on their 12-70 record a year ago, it's probably fairly obvious that they had some awful statistics. 

Just in case you weren't aware of them, though, let's go through them.

The Nets were last in points per game (92.4), last in field goal percentage (42.9), last in three-point field goal percentage (31.8), two spots away from last in rebounds per game (39.7) and last in assists per game (18.8).

At least they were more middle of the pack instead of worst in points allowed, giving up an average of 101.5 a game, good for 17th in the NBA.

New Jersey will hope that once the season starts, new players Troy Murphy (when he gets healthy), Derrick Favors, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow can help them improve their shooting and rebounding.

Murphy is a solid rebounder who can add some points when he comes back from a lower back injury that has him out indefinitely.

Favors has the potential to become a force in the league, Outlaw is a guy who can create shots, (although he does need to get better at knocking them down) and Morrow is one of the best pure shooters in the game.

The Nets also drafted Damion Jones out of Texas, a player who has shown the ability to hit jumpers, and are hoping that better players around point guard Devin Harris will lead to greater assist numbers.

Now, this is just the preseason, but the team improved in every area mentioned above.

While none of this will count and all the numbers will be wiped away come October 27th, these games do matter.  There is no way that playing well and winning games this time of year can be a bad thing once the games do count.

New Jersey went 3-1 in their first week of preseason games, but it's clear that some players will need to step up their games.

We all know what we'll get from the likes of Brook Lopez and Harris, if he can stay on the court, so let's take a look at how the newcomers fared, as well as some other guys who could be key once the season gets going.

As mentioned earlier, Murphy has seen zero minutes so far this preseason due to a lower back injury.  The team hopes that he won't miss too much time in the regular season.

Favors, the third-overall pick in this year's draft, flashed his potential, but also showed that he is a work in progress.

In his first game against Maccabi Haifa of Israel, he had 14 points to go along with nine rebounds and on Saturday against Philadelphia, he grabbed 10 rebounds and nine points.

In between those two games, though, he had just four points and one rebound against those same 76ers while playing just 13 minutes due to foul trouble. 

He fouled out against Boston after 24 minutes in which he had three points and four rebounds.

It's very unclear which way his career will go right now, but he seems to be an all-or-nothing player.

Outlaw has not been all that impressive.  He was not much of a contributor, despite starting, until Saturday when he had 15 points and nine rebounds.

The Nets have to hope that was a sign that he has figured out his role with this team.

New Jersey brought in Anthony Morrow solely for his shooting and the Nets need to hope he can play better than he did. 

He had a good game shooting against Maccabi Haifa when he went 4 of 8 from the field and 4 of 6 from three, but other than that he had trouble, with a field goal percentage of 35 along with a three-point field goal percentage of 37.5.

It is just the preseason and guys are in the process of finding their shot, but it is somewhat troubling that a fair share of the team's best numbers came against an opponent from Israel, skewing their statistics somewhat.

With that in mind, here's how their numbers compare to those listed at the beginning of this article.

The team averaged 98.3 points per game, shot 45.8 percent from the field and 43.7 percent on threes, had 48 rebounds a game, dished out 22.3 assists a contest and had an average of 87.8 points allowed.

The Nets also staged a giant comeback against the Sixers when they found themselves down seven with 12.5 seconds to go.  Pulling out a one-point win on the strength of their three-point shooting.

One of the more interesting pieces on this team is forward Terrence Williams, who has Can't-Take-Your-Eyes-Off-Him potential, but started out on the bench.

Many thought he would find himself in a starting role after the way he finished last season, but it's becoming more clear why coach Avery Johnson has him on the second unit.

Williams has been turning the ball over at a clip of four times a game so far.  To his credit, this often happens when he tries to find a teammate with a pass that he most likely connected on in his days at Louisville. 

He could still be adjusting to the speed of the game at the next level, and when he does enter the game he handles the ball an awful lot. 

It seems Johnson wants him to assume a point guard type role when he's on the court, using his penetration ability to either get a shot or find an open teammate if defenders converge on him.

For what it's worth, I'm a believer in Williams and think it's just a matter of time before he puts it together and finds himself starting. 

It's also beneficial right now to have him coming off the bench because he can at least ensure that the second unit gets some good scoring opportunities.

This is a team that obviously needs to improve greatly over their 2009-10 campaign if they wish to compete.

They have an owner in Mikhail Prokhorov who is committed to making that happen and a solid, defensive-minded coach who can hopefully get the team to play well on that side of the ball, keeping them in games.

As Prokhorov attempts to make the Nets a global brand, the team will play games in China and Russia this week against Houston.

We'll see if they can continue to improve.


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