"If healthy" has become as much a defining phrase for the Nets this summer as "It's a process" was during their awful start last season. It captures the team's hopes. IF healthy, they should be a competitive force in the East if not a championship defender. IF healthy, their decision not to re-sign Pierce and go young shouldn't be that much of an issue.
But second to health, versatility will define how well the team does. Can Lionel Hollins take advantage of the roster's ability to play --and play well-- at multiple positions? It's one thing to have "six to eight players" who can play multiple positions, as Billy King noted. It's a whole other thing to mold them into cohesive units. The Nets are helped by having 10 of their 15 players back from last year. Still, it's a challenge.
Nowhere is this more true than in the three "small" positions: point guard, shooting guard and small forward. As Ohm Youngmisuk points out in his position analyses, there is a lot of versatility with Jarrett Jack and Deron Williams able to play the 1 and the 2, Alan Anderson able to play the 2 or 3 ... even the 1 in a pinch, Joe Johnson able to move easily from the 2 to the 3, and the two young Euros --Bojan Bogdanovic and Sergey Karasev capable, with time, to do the same. It appears that the Nets would like to develop the bigger Bogdanovic at the 3 and the better passing Karasev at the 2. Then, there's Markel Brown who wants to mold himself into a Russell Westbrook-like hybrid.
Upfront, the Nets have to be thinking what they're going to do with Mason Plumlee after watching Team USA use him a bid more at power forward than Jason Kidd did last season. And wonder if they do, will they need to entertain the idea of adding a veteran big? Scott Fontana of amNY notes Thursday that Emeka Okafor is still out there.
- Position analysis: Shooting guard - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Position analysis: Point guard - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
Position analysis: Small Forward - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Filling the Nets, Knicks roster holes - Scott Fontana - amNY