It's been a successful experiment.
Since starting Josh Boone and Sean Williams, the Nets are 3-2. And once you drill down deeper into the NBA statistic trove, you find that the team is doing considerably better on offense during those five games than in the season overall...and in rebounding, perimiter defense and blocked shots as well. There has been little improvement in ball-handling, however.
Here's a summary of how the Nets have done in the five games featuring the 23-year-old Boone and the 21-year-old Williams.
In scoring, the Nets have gone from averaging 92.2 points per game--29th in the league--to averaging 100 points--12th. On defense, the Nets have gone from allowing 97.4 points per game--20th in the league--to allowing 102.2 points--21st. As a result, the team's per game deficit has shrunk from 5.2 to 2.2.
The biggest improvement has been in shooting percentage, from 43.1% overall to 45.7% in the past five games, a jump from 29th to ninth. Three point shooting has also improved, presumably because opponents know they can't leave either big man alone underneath. From a league worst 32.0% for the season, it's jumped ten places to 34.2%. At the free throw line, Boone's misses have been more than compensated by Williams' improving record and the team has made another big jump here, from 74.2% and 21st to 75.7% and 12th.
Rebounding and defense have also improved. Since the change, the Nets are fourth in the NBA in rebounding at 45.6 per game, up from 9th and 41.1. But in terms of differential, the Nets are second to the Spurs the past five games, outrebounding opponents by 8.2 game, up from eighth and 1.93 for the season. There has been a statistically insignificant drop in overall defense, with teams shooting 45.5% in the past five games, compared to 44.8% but perimeter defense has improved, going from 26th--37.5%--to 17th--37.0%. Not surprisingly, with Williams and to a lesser degree Boone swatting away shots, the Nets rank 11th in blocked shots the last five games, at 5.6 per game, again a jump, this time five places, from 4.89. Last season, the Nets were dead last in blocked shots. In steals, for the season, the Nets are taking the ball away 6.80 times a game, up slightly from 6.58. League ranking has improved from 24th to 20st.
Ball-handling has been mixed. Assists are up from 22.69 per game--eighth in the league for the season--to 25 per game--sixth in the past five games, but turnovers have jumped, from 16.2 per game in the full season to 17.6 with the new starting lineup, going from 26th to 28th. Teams are still stealing the ball at a high rate...8.6 per game now compared to 8.58 for the season. That's 28th and 21st. Personal fouls, another season long problem for the Nets, have dropped as well, from 23.34 to 21 per game, from 27th to 19th in league rank.