clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

BUZZKILL: Brooklyn Nets' athleticism (or lack thereof)

New, comments

The Nets' lack of athleticism may be their Achille's heal against younger, more athletic teams

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Though it's difficult to quantify in any discernible manner, athleticism is incredibly important to the success of an NBA team.  Some of the best players in the NBA also double as the most athletic.  Even the best bigs in the league, excluding Tim Duncan, the master of fundamentals, are athletic freaks.

The Nets don't seem to have much athleticism.  This lack of freakishness may be why many NBA fans feel the Nets are a "boring" team.  You won't be seeing many gravity-defying dunks of SportsCenter by a player with "Brooklyn" across his chest.

The Nets do possess some athleticism.  Mason Plumlee, for one, is an athlete and a half.  At the 2013 NBA Combine, the Duke center had a more than respectable 36.5" vertical. That's higher that supposed athletic freak and ex-Net Terrence Williams. Plumlee also passes the eye test; his athletic prowess is obvious to even the most casual fan.

The other overly-impressive athlete on the roster is rookie guard Markel Brown.  Brown's 43.5" vertical is one of the best ever.  His vertical even beats Vince Carter's by half an inch.  The rookie out of Oklahoma State is also incredible fast, agile and is an absolute freak, in the most positive sense of the word. Ask Bojan Bogdanovic.

Guys like Marquis Teague and Cory Jefferson are also athletic, particularly Jefferson with his 37.5" vertical, but both are on the fringes of the roster and quite frankly, will probably not contribute much this year.  Even Brown might not play much.

Aside from the aforementioned players, the remaining Nets lack athleticism.  Sure, Deron Williams may have been an athletic point guard once upon a time, but his faulty ankles have robbed him of the agility of years past.  Joe Johnson, never most athletic on the court, now plays small forward and maybe that's because he can't keep up with other small forwards.

In fact, the lack of athleticism is most evident on the wings. Bogdanovic and Sergey Karasev may be "sneaky athletic" (as Karasev proved to Ben McLemore Sunday morning) in the Johnson and Alan Anderson vein, but none of these guys are going to make eyes pop. Andrei Kirilenko used to be able to do it, but he's 33.  Wily yes, hyper-athletic, no.

The rest of the roster is downright slow.  As Reed Wallach wrote earlier this week, the Nets do not run the floor well and no one on the current roster finished in the top 100 of average speed among players who logged at least 20 minutes per game. Moreover, as a team, the Nets finished 29th overall, ahead of only the Knicks The aging Kevin Garnett isn't wowing anyone with speed and guys like Mirza Teletovic and especially Brook Lopez fall in that same boat.

This leaves the Nets very vulnerable to hyper-athletic teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Teams with superior athletes, which is most teams in the NBA, will have a significant athletic advantage over the Nets. This means the Nets truly need to play team basketball and not rely on their athleticism. It seems Lionel Hollins understands that.