Billy King spent nearly 15 minutes talking to Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Wednesday and it was almost all about the Nets defense which by some measures is ranked 30th and last in the NBA (after being ranked 29th last season.)
"I think after 20 games, that gives you an idea of where you're going to be," said King, talking about the adjustment period for a team with 10 new players. "I don't think we are in a panic mode defensively but we know we got to get better at it...
"Basketball wise, I like our team but we've got to get better defensively. Avery went over some things today at shootaround and make some adjustments," he added. "So I think that part of it is a work in progress. I think offensively, we can score with anybody. we just get to get the other part if we want to be one of the elite teams. "
King also talked about other aspects of defense, including the loss of Gerald Wallace. He said that while there is a timetable and target date for Wallace, he wouldn't reveal it. The Nets GM also agreed with Smith and Ruocco on the value of C.J. Watson, noting that it was Deron Williams who close the deal with Watson.
Meanwhile, Zach Lowe has a breakdown of Brook Lopez's pick-and-roll defense, which still needs a lot of work.
Here are some other excerpts from King's interview with ESPN...
We'll get better. losing Gerald hurts, but he gives us the ability to go small. the other game, they went small and not having Gerald one of your better defensive players on the floor...
I think after 20 games, that gives you an idea of where you're going to be. I don't think we are in a panic mode defensively but we know we got to get better at it.
Key to playing Miami is you can't put them on the foul line and you better not turn the ball over because they'll get out and run. They're looking to push the ball.
Sometimes if you run a good offense, it helps your defense and i thought in the fourth quarter, i thought our offense hurt our defense and our defense wasn't goot in the fourth quarter. So we've got to run a better offense and Avery addressed that today in what we're trying to accomplish in the fourth quarter as well as defensively.
The one thing the Knicks did is they were very good defensively. They made shots. Miami is like Boston. Their defense is predicated on making you shoot jump shots. So when you do, you got to make them. That's one thing New York did. They made their shots and not turn the ball over. And that's what you got to do, because when you're making shots, it gives you a chance to get your defense set. So we've got to do that tonight. We can't turn the ball over. Ball goes into Brook Lopez and they come to help, and I think they will, he can't give up those cross-court passes where LeBron is stealing and going in for a dunk. those possessions kill yu when you play this team.
I always thought the Knicks were going to be good. They got one of the best players in the league in Carmelo and a good supporting cast and Jason Kidd runs the point. So they've got a very good basketball team. The Knicks are going to be a team to beat in this division. I don't think it's just Boston. It's Boston and New York and if we want to win the division, we've got to get past those two.
At this point, I don't think we've got a 'decisive advantage' because we're not clicking yet. But I do feel with Joe and Deron ... and Avery talked about this, Joe, Deron and Brook are taking the most shots because they are the most gifted offensive players we have and then get other guys doing their rolls. I think that's why New York has been doing so well, because they understand who they need to ride offensively and who to get the ball to. Those guys are doing their jobs very well.
When you have a system and players buy in and believe it, you can cover up weaknesses of guys that wouldn't be as strong. But I think every player can be a good defensive player by effort. They may not be quick. They may not be athletic, but if they give effort and you run your system right. I played one of the great defensive coaches in Coach K. We had guys who weren't good defenders individually the system allowed them to be a good team defensively. What it comes down to is effort and mentality and that's we got to develop, the effort and mentality on the defensive end.
There's a lot of new guys here, Stephen. He's been here a few years, but there are a lot of guys new to the system. So you're asking Joe Johnson who came from Atlanta for a whole new terminology of how you're going to do things. You're asking Gerald Wallace to come in after playing for Avery for 25 to 30 games and understand a new system. So it's not that Avery's been here, it's a lot of guys that are understanding he concepts and got to change some habits that they may have had at other places. Reggie Evans is new C.J. Watson. So, it's understanding terminology so that's more or less the difference for us.
Right now, he's day to day. I know the target date but we're going to keep it listed as day to day.
Meanwhile, Zach Lowe, now of Grantland, writes extensively about Brook Lopez's defense (in the smallest of samples, the Timberwolves game). It's still a work in progress, Lowe writes, but he saw some encouraging signs.