The 2005 Off-season was somewhat of a disappointment for Nets fans. The Nets nearly succeeded in their attempt to land Shareef Abdur-Rahim, but backed out of the deal due to a ten year old injury, which never bothered him while playing in the NBA.
Marc Jackson was brought in to replace Abdur-Rahim. Jackson is best suited as an seventh or eight guy, coming off the bench, while Abdur-Rahim would have started from day one. Disappointing.
Flashes of greatness in 2004-2005 made the expectations last summer sky high to the team from New Jersey. As expected, it turned out that the Nets was the only team from the weak Atlantic Division that managed to advance to the playoffs.
Though the Pacers fought hard, the Nets went to the second round of the playoffs, where the Nets was beaten by the Heat, who – as most of us know – wounded up coming out of the finals on the bright side.
The season also marked the first season, where the trio of Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter and last but not least, Jason Kidd, got to play together for an entire season. That led to some entertaining basketball, dominated by fast-breaks and efficient offense. The defesce was not as efficient as the offense, and it was here that Jason Kidd's age began being an issue. He is still a fantastic player, but his plays seems to be plagued by the high numbers on the mile-counter.
Besides the famous trio, there wasn’t much to celebrate about. Clifford Robinson played better than most of the people at his age, but then again – he turns 40 in December. Nenad Krstic didn’t take a step back from a promising 2004/05 season, but didn’t manage to take more than a half stage forward as well. That’s not good, when the only other big-man option is Jason Collins. Collins is solid, hardworking and stays away from foul trouble. But he will never be an All-star, nor even reel starter-material.
The rest of the wasn’t even worth mentioning. Actually, recently signed Jeff McInnis’ main contributions was negative. What didn’t make sense, was that the fact that the Nets drafted another swingman in Antoine Wright. The Jury is still voting on whether that was the right thing to do or not, as Wright has been as good as invisible so far. He has showed potential, but not managed to fulfil it yet.
The needs in New Jersey were obvious when the playoff exit was a reality. The main thing was to get a solid Power Forward or Center. Then, they had to find a back-up to Jason Kidd. First and foremost, the back-ups main job was to keep Jason Kidd away from running his way into death as the season progressed. However, it wouldn’t be a sad thing, if the back-up also was a man for the future, who when time comes, could take over the job for the aging Hall Of Famer.
Apparently, the Nets managed to solve the back-up problem perfectly. Marcus Williams kept falling on draft night, until the Nets had a chance to pick him with the 22nd pick. Some still believe, that Williams will turn out to be the best point guard of the '06 class.
Unfortunately, the Nets still have some problems on the main issue. Power Forward Josh Boone was taken by the Nets with the 23rd pick, but he posses less talent than Williams. Boone looks like an upgrade at the Nets frontline, but it is unclear whether or not that’s enough.
With their last pick, the Nets drafted Hassan Adams with the 54th pick. However, Adams isn’t expected to be an factor in the first year or two.
The Nets went to Seattle to pick up Mikki Moore, and Eddie House was signed as a free agent. Both players are decent bench players.
Scott Padgett and Zoran Planinic were both set free, and Jacque Vaughn signed with the Spurs. Not big losses.
The bottom line: Good off-season by the Nets, highlighted by the 2006 Draft, if Marcus Williams keeps away from trouble with the law.
Off-season grade: B+.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE 2006/07 SEASON
It will be a tough season start, with Marcus Williams, Josh Boone and Eddie House out with injuries, and therefore sidelined (note: Williams turned out not be injured). They are all expected to be key players on the bench, and it is important that they get some playing time as fast as possible, in order to fit in well. If you can get these three guys to fit in the rotation as they return from injuries, things are looking good.
Once again, it looks like another trip to the playoffs for Jason Kidd and his two highflying team mates on the wings. The question is, if they make the playoffs because of their place in the weak division, or they in fact take it to a higher level and perform with teams like the Heat, Cavaliers, Bulls and Pistons.
Jason Kidd is no longer young, but he is still a mind-blowing skilled point guard, who like no other, manages to get the maximum out of his teammates. He is not a scorer, but besides the fantastic ability to create chances for his teammates, he is a very strong point guard who pulls downs lots of rebounds and does a good job on defense. He is not as fast as he used to be, when chasing his man, but unlike Gary Payton, he hasn’t lost the ability to play excellent post-up defense.
There is no doubt that Marcus Williams is the man to take over when Jason Kidd goes to the bench. It will be interesting to see how that works out. Williams resembles Kidd, in terms of skills and playingstyle, but unfortunately, he has been in trouble with the law a few times, just like Kidd.
In case of injuries, Eddie House could get some minutes at the Point Guard position, but that isn’t his natural position and he lacks the PG instincts that Kidd and Williams have.
Another backcourt position, another NBA star. Vince Carter is undisputed starter as the Shooting Guard in New Jersey, despite trade rumours. Carter is a fans favourite, one of the big ones, and even though he’s not always into playing defense, he is still a player who belongs in the starting line-up. He is somewhat of a streaky shooter, but fortunately, he’s often warmer than cold. Sometimes, Carter looks as he is afraid of contact, other times he dunks hard on Alonzo Mourning. When Carter is at his best, there just really no stopping him, but if he’s having a bad game, he tends to rely to much on his shooting. His shooting is good, but that’s just not his greatest strength.
Eddie House and Antoine Wright are the main substitutes, when Air Newark needs some rest.
Richard Jefferson is the second highflying wing. Another happy receiver, when Jason Kidd passes the ball. He is an efficient finisher from mid-range and in, he wants to rebound and play defense. Except an un-stable shot from the outside, he is decent at pretty much all aspects of the game. He compliments his backcourt mates, and they compliment him. He takes most of the time at the SF position, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Look out for Antoine Wright and Bostjan Nachbar as the replacements, when Jefferson goes to the bench, although Vince Carter plays some SF minutes as well.
With no other option, Jason Collins looks like the starting Power Forward. There is no doubt that he represents great value for the Nets, mainly because of his size, strength and few turnovers. However, that’s about it. It starts to look like the weak side of the Nets, the closer to the basket we get. There has been a gap ever since Kenyon Martin left town, and it remains to be closed. It is not an issue in the regular season, since all the Nets has to do, is to win half of their games to proceed to the playoffs. The problem is, that it takes more to advance deep in the playoffs, without a great big man.
I don’t think they regret trading K-Mart, as he hasn’t been able to fill his own shoes, since Jason Kidd stopped tieing his shoelaces.
Rookie Josh Boone is expected to get relative lots of minutes, but he is not any near as strong as Collins.
Maybe there will even be minutes to old man Cliff Robinson, but don’t expect him to get significant minutes. His main function, is to be a threat from the outside, and thereby getting the opponents big man away from the basket.
Nenad Krstic is the guy, who can help the Nets advance in the playoffs. All he has to do is play defense. On the offensive end, he looks like a potential All-star, but he still lacks toughness and strength in the defense. There are not many centers in the NBA that has better low-post offense than Krstic, but it is on the defensive end that the Nets need him to step up. If he manages to do just that, look out.
Mikki Moore was brought in to replace Krstic, when he needs some rest. However, Moore is even more skinny than Krstic, and can easily be pushed around by the heavy centers in the NBA.
Last in the line stands Robinson and the new prospect, Mile Ilic, waiting for their names to be called up.
The Nets in the playoffs is pretty much a done deal already. The hard thing, is to tell how far they will go. The backcourt is simply fantastic. The trio has great chemistry and compliments each other perfectly. Unfortunately, their frontcourt is so weak, that Jason Kidd as actually the greatest rebounder on the team.
If Krstic doesn’t manage to improve, or something drastic takes place, it looks like another playoff-exit before the fun part begins.