What is the team to emulate for the Nets? Well it's the very team you were watching nearly a decade ago. The 2001-2003 Nets
Why should we emulate them? Well of course because they were successful, but also because they were great at the most vital aspect of NBA basketball: Defense.
The 2001-02 Nets were not a good offensive team. Basketball Reference has their offensive rating at 17th out of 29 team. The leading scorer on that team (Kenyon Martin) only averaged 14.9 ppg. That's only slighty more than what Anthony Morrow is averaging right now.
The 2002-03 Nets were not much better. They were even worse in fact, being only 18th out of 29.
But what those two teams had in common was that they were both the number 1 defensive team in the entire NBA. The 2001-02 team forced opponents to shoot only 42.9% from the field, while the 2002-03 team did even better, holding opponents to 42.7%. That 42.7% is the exact same shooting percentage the Miami Heat, the best in the NBA right now in that regard, are holding their opponents to.
If we look at individual defensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions) The 2001-02 Nets had 5 guys with ratings below 100 - Kidd, Van Horn, MacCulloch, Martin, and Anthony Johnson. The 2002-03 Nets had 8 guys with ratings below 100 - Kidd, Kittles, Martin, Collins, Rogers, Scalabrine, Mutombo, and Slay. The 2010-11 Miami Heat have 0 players with a rating below 100.
If the Nets want to get back on top, they have to focus on becoming the best defensive team in the NBA, offensive ability be damned.