Sometimes, there are situations where before you have even started doing anything, you know it just isn’t going to end well. You know what you have to do and you think you know how to do it, but then when it comes down to putting things into action, it just doesn’t happen. It’s like seeing a beautiful girl across the bar, knowing that you HAVE to talk to her, knowing that you HAVE to succeed, but then you’re left trying to save face in front of your boys when she shoots you down before you even say a word.
The Nets are going to have to do a lot of face-saving this season for their fans. They’re going to have to try to save more face than Michael Jackson’s surgeons. When you take a look at their lineup, it isn’t something that will strike fear into any team in the league. Let’s take a look at who their starting five might be.
Yi Jianlian – There has been so much hype about Yi, but from what I saw last year, this guy makes Bargnani look like a modern day Laimbeer. To put it short, the dude doesn’t like contact. He’s fairly athletic and can shoot a bit, but all you have to do is bump him around a bit and he shuts things down. Don’t be fooled by him pulling in 5 rebounds per game, because most of those are floaters that rimmed far out to the safe zone where he was hiding.
Brook Lopez – Okay, I’m not completely sure he will start at centre for the Nets, but who else do they have to play there? Guys who will bring answers of either “Who?” or “Oh hell no.” Josh Boone? Stromile Swift? Sean Williams? So I think the Nets will go with the rookie Lopez and see if he sinks or swims. Problem is, when you’re in the swamp, sometimes you can’t tell the difference.
Bobby Simmons – Bobby Simmons has been everything you can expect a player coming out of DePaul to be. Average. There’s a reason why in 6 seasons, he has played for the Wiz, the Clips, the Bucks and now in his 7th season, is moving on to the Nets. He’s a guy who will always have a job in the NBA, because he isn’t really going to hurt you and he can contribute a bit, plus he isn’t going to break the bank on payroll.
Devin Harris – Also knows as Two Face. There are some games where Devin Harris looks like he is going to be one of the leagues best PGs, but then the next game, he will go into hiding and/or make some of the most curious decisions you will ever see. While he puts up pretty good numbers (14.8 and 5.8), I think he should really be noted more for his defensive game, because he does have the ability to shut down the other team’s PG when they’re trying to get some dribble penetration.
Vince Carter – Oh yes, good old Vince. Let’s see how long this season goes before his mythical injuries start showing up more frequently or he starts saying that he isn’t going to dunk anymore. You see, life works in circles and when you try to run from a problem, it will eventually catch you wherever you are. Vince is back as the best player on a bad team and we all know how he deals with adversity.
There was a lot of hype when Lawrence Frank took over the Nets and seemed to have them turned around, but this season, depending on how they do before the break, he could be on the hot seat. I don’t think it would be a smart decision, he seems to come into games with a pretty good game plan, but we all know that when things start heading south, the first guy they look to axe is the coach. Is Frank going to hook his wagon to Vince and hope that he can pull out some close games for them? Hopefully he shows that he is smart and stays away from this plan, because it could be one for disaster.
The Nets essentially have had too much change in the wrong direction in one season to do anything significant this year (other than lose a lot). They’ll keep some games close because of some of the athleticism they have actually picked up, but as we all know with Jamario Moon, athleticism only gets you so far.
How They Match Up Against the Raptors
Since Vince headed to Jersey, he has had a knack of having some big games against the Raptors, but he has also had a few stinkers, which pretty much sums up most of his career. The person that I think will have more of an effect on how the Raptors do against the Nets this season is a player who isn’t even there anymore: Richard Jefferson. Jefferson used to create all sorts of matchup problems for the Raptors and while he would sometimes sulk and start crying to refs about fouls that weren’t called, when he did decide to play, he created a lot of problems for the Raptors. I can’t see Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian doing much to get around Bosh and O’Neal, so it will be up to them to stop them on the other end and I can’t really see that happening either. The Raptors should be able to handle the Nets pretty easily this season.