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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #21

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Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting data into larger stories and blogs.

Training Camp Update.

Media Day is now set for Friday, September 26, at the Nets' training facility in East Rutherford, with full workouts set to begin the next morning. The Nets have gotten an exemption from the league to start early because of their European exhibition schedule. Teams not headed overseas start with Media Day on Monday.

Expect to read and hear more about the team next week. Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Yi Jianlian and presumably non-roster invitees will be in camp Monday. As Dave D’Alessandro reported, Ryan Anderson may not be there, having to leave the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program Thursday because of a family emergency back in northern California.

No word yet on who the Nets have invited to camp, other than Julius Hodge and Brian Hamilton. At least two others should be on hand and we doubt any of them will be bigs. The Nets seem to be on overstock in that department. One combo guard who won’t be here is Robert Hite, who is in the Phoenix Suns camp after being the last player cut last season. Hite, known for his outside shot and skywalking ability, had a productive season in Turkey last year. And as noted, Hassan Adams is in the Raptors’ camp.

Yi -- Olympics Good or Bad?

Speaking of Yi, don’t be so sure that he’ll be damaged by the Olympic experience. A USA Today survey shows that, barring injury, Olympic players usually do better the season after their international experience. Vince Carter, for example, had his best season right after exploding over Frederic Weis in Sydney…and that Olympics was much closer to NBA training camp than the Beijing Olympics.

Yi's next international commitment comes a year from now. From September 1 through September 9, 2009, the FIBA Asia Championships will be held in China. With Yao Ming strongly suggesting that he will opt out, Yi will be expected to anchor the Chinese entry...and win.

Dribble-Drive Planning.

Increasingly, it looks like the Nets have planned on using the dribble-drive motion offense since at least last June and we suspect since the trade of Jason Kidd brought Devin Harris east.

CDR said this week that Lawrence Frank told him on Draft Night they were planning to use his old college offense.

"It's gonna be great for us," CDR told Dave D'Alessandro this week. "We have athletic guys who can get to the basket, and that's what this offense is about. It's a drive-and-kick system, it's perfectly suited for guys who can get into the paint, so it will open up a lot of opportunities for Vince and Devin."

Anderson seemed to get it as well. He told his local newspaper last month what the Nets said they expected of him.

"They see me as a 3 (small forward) or 4 (a big forward) and I already know my role as a pick and pop (shoot from the outside after setting a screen) player who also will be able to drive inside when a bigger, slower guy is on me."

And GM Kiki Vandeweghe talked about how the young bigs he and Thorn selected (Lopez and Anderson) and traded for (Yi) on Draft Night fit into the kind of offense the Nets now are planning.

"If you look statistically at what is extremely valuable, bigs who can shoot from the outside and stretch the defense have really become a big part of our game," Vandeweghe told YES after the Draft. "The NBA has changed in recent history and if you can get big players who can shoot from the outside, they're extremely effective."

How Young?

Last week...and for several weeks really, we've talked about the Nets' youth, so this week we did a little math to determine just how young the Nets will be going into the season, how that compares with other teams and how it compares with last year's Nets.

We're assuming the roster stays intact and aren't counting Keith Van Horn or Darrell Armstrong in our calculations, even though they appear on the roster.

Here's the roster, with birthdays and (slightly rounded) ages as of November 1:

Ryan Anderson 05/06/1988 - 20 years, five months, three weeks.
Brook Lopez 04/01/1988 - 20 years, seven months.
Yi Jianlian 10/27/1987 - 21 years, 3 days.
Chris Douglas-Roberts 01/08/1987 – 21 years, nine months, three weeks
Sean Williams 09/13/1986 - 22 years, one month, two weeks.
Josh Boone 11/21/84 – 23 years, eleven months, one week.
Maurice Ager 02/09/1984 - 24 years, seven months, three weeks.
Devin Harris 02/27/1983 – 25 years, eight months.
Jarvis Hayes 08/09/1981 – 27 years, two months, three weeks.
Bobby Simmons 06/02/1980 – 28 years, five months.
Keyon Dooling 05/08/1980 – 28 years, five months, three weeks.
Stromile Swift 11/21/1979 – 28 years, eleven months, one week.
Trenton Hassell 03/04/1979 – 29 years, eight months.
Vince Carter 01/26/1977 – 31 years, nine months, one week.
Eduardo Najera 07/11/1976 – 32 years, three months, three weeks.

That works out to an average age of 25.81 years old. Where does that put them among NBA teams? Not as young as you might think. Last season, the Sixers opened the season at 25.73 years, placing them seventh. But where does that put this year's Nets compared to last year's? It's a significant change. On opening night last year, the Nets' average age was 28.43 years old, placing them 27th in the league. So the rebuilding/retooling has jumped them almost 20 places. The league average last year on November 1 was 26.91 years old.

And here's a fun fact we discovered: two players who will be competing for minutes--Boone and Swift--share a birthday, November 21, five years apart.

Krstic Continues to Play Well.

After his 29-point, 5-rebound breakout against Finland in a losing effort last weekend, Nenad Krstic played well Wednesday in a crucial matchup against Bulgaria in the Eurobasket 09 Qualifying Round in Belgrade. Krstic has 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting along with six boards and three blocked shots. More than 15,000 screaming Serbian fans showed up at the game and Serbia won, 74-64.

On Saturday, Krstic and the Serbs went up against Italy, which is playing without its three best players--Andrea Bargnani, Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari. Krstic dominated early with six points and five rebounds in five minutes but also picked up three personals and sat for most of the first half. He didn't score in the second half but finished with a game-high nine rebounds and Serbia beat Italy easily, 72-52. The Serbs are now virtually assured a trip to the European championships in Warsaw next summer...when he and Nets will have thier next chance to negotiate a contract. The Nets retain Krstic's rights.

You Can Be a Football Hero.

A bored blogger in Salt Lake City has decided that there is enough football talent—proven and unproven--in the NBA to field a representative NFL team. Two Nets make the All-NBA Gridiron Squad, as put together by Arnold Babar or Salt Palace: Devin Harris at wide receiver and Eduardo Najera at linebacker.

Of Harris, Babar writes: "Harris is our deep threat. Known as one of the fastest players in the NBA, Harris will be needed to stretch the field and keep defenses honest."

Of Najera: "Najera is a guy in the NBA that can defend 3 positions. He's very versatile as an asset to any coach, and plays 100% every minute he is on the floor. Najera is a very physical player who would fit in well as a blitzing LB or a reliable coverage man."

There’s no indication either ever played organized football, unlike several others on the team. Lebron James, for example, was an all-State tight end in Ohio, and Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups were all-State quarterbacks. Matt Harpring was a top prospect at QB as well. Ben Wallace was one tough linebacker. Glen "Big Baby" Davis played fullback, tight end, and defensive end in high school. Nate Robinson actually played defensive back and well at the University of Washington.

If the team is looking for a drum major, Vince Carter did that at Mainland High in Daytona Beach.

Drezz for Succezz?

Four days before he was traded from the Bucks to the Nets, Bobby Simmons was in the South Loop neighborhood of his hometown of Chicago, opening what others might call a sportswear boutique, but which he insists is an "environment". Simmons also owns a construction company. Talk about diversification.

Succezz ("two Z’s because we never sleep", says Simmons) is the brainchild of Simmons and his partner, Lavell Sykes, a custom sneaker designer. And the two of them plan to take it nationally. The store got a nice review this week in the Chicago Herald and Simmons gave a video tour of it just before he was traded.

Final Note.

Word has leaked out that the "Brooklyn Burger" , brainchild of the A. Stein Meat Products of Sunset Park, N.Y. will become "the official burger of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets."

What’s a "Brooklyn Burger"? To find out, you can order online (!!). Burgers online. Cool.