There's been a lot of talk about how the Kevin Garnett-for-Thaddeus Young trade helped open things up for Brook Lopez and led to the Nets recent success. But Lionel Hollins says the deal has also helped Deron Williams, too. Hollins told Joe and Evan Thursday that adding Young --and inserting Markel Brown in the starting lineup-- made the Nets more athletic ... and a better fit for Williams' style.
Saying D-Will has played "extremely well since the All-Star Break," Hollins attributed the change to the physical and mental rest he was able to get and the change in the Nets' makeup with the addition of Young and Brown.
"Deron is a good high-pace player," Hollins told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. "He likes to push the ball, he likes to probe, to explore early. I think with the added quickness around him, he's been able to do that and we've been able to be effective with that."
Hollins also seemed to suggest, as Stefan Bondy has, that the Nets are a bit looser without KG. Asked how the Nets were responding without Garnett, Hollins offered praise for the future Hall of Famer, then spoke at length about how leadership comes in many ways.
"They're together as a group and they're leading each other as a group without vocal domination, but with just going out and doing your job and playing," he noted.
Hollins saved his most effusive praise for Brown, comparing him to one of his former charges in Memphis.
"He had a great game defensively on Harden in Houston although we lost that game," Hollins recalled. "I said at that point, I think we've found our Tony Allen is what I said. This kid can guard and he's been coming and he gives us a lift at the beginning of games with his intensity and his aggressiveness."
Here's some selected quotes from the 17-minute interview.
On Deron Williams improvement...
"I think the trade for Thaddeus young gives us a little more versatility, a little more quickness and putting Markel Brown in the starting lineup has contributed to us playing at a different pace, especially early. And Deron is a good high-pace player. He likes to push the ball, he likes to probe, to explore early. I think with the added quickness around him, he's been able to do that and we've been able to be effective with that. But everything comes with health and Deron has had his turn with nagging injuries this year as well as last couple of year.
"Everyone is healthy. I think Brook being out for the amount of the time he's been out and (initially) not be sure he's healthy from a psychological perspective. I think physically doctors can tell you something but you have to go out there and believe it yourself and try things. And when you start having success trying things that you used to bu were afraid to do, things change and you get more confident. I think that's been the key for both of those guys."
On replacing Kevin Garnett's leadership...
"I have nothing but the great memories and thoughts of the great Kevn Garnett as a person, a player and as a leader, but leadership comes in a lot of ways. And definitely, Kevin was a strong foice in the locker room but everyone can lead by example by doing your job and going out an playing. I think as a team, they're bonding as a group. They're leading each other as a group without vocal domination but with just going out and doing your job and playing. Guys have grown through the year. Markel has grown, Bogie (Bojan Bogdanovic) has grown. Jarrett Jack is a good leader in the locker room. Alan Anderson is a good leader in the locker room. And Joe has stepped up and been more of a verbal leader than everyone says he ever was. So you lose one dominating voice and all of a sudden, there's a lot of voices that step up."
On what he saw in Markel Brown and when he saw it...
"He brought a certain quickness and athleticism that we didnt have on the team, so you noticed it at practice, but consistency is something young players have to develop and he and Cory Jefferson are probably our two most athletic kids on the court. Just before we got to the point (where he started), Markel was really, really consistent every day at practice. Every time I watched him, he was showing something that said, 'I need a chance.'
"And then Bogie sprained his ankle the second game after the All-Star Break, he got a chance. He was playing good off the bench as the second 2 guard and so I said, why not move him right on up to starter and he came in and he showed an ability to defend that I didn't know. I didn't know that he could defend like that and he's had some big games defensively - a great game against Monta Ellis in Dallas, he had a great game defensively on Harden in Houston although we lost that game. I said at that point, I think we've found our Tony Allen is what I said. This kid can guard and he's been coming and he gives us a lift at the beginning of games with his intensity and his aggressiveness and he can gets his hands on balls and then he just guards.
"He's actually gone back and got some rebounds as well. He's getting more confident offensively, attacking the basket, not deferring to other players. He's a young player so we're excited about that. So, I'm glad Billy bought those two second round picks and used one of them on Markel because I think he has a bright future as he keeps growing and working. I like him as person as well...
"He has a toughness about him and an attitude, which I like that about him."
Hollins was asked about the team's poor record and he once again said he doesn't understand it. But he noted that he's happy with the Nets 19-20 road record. He declined to discuss the playoffs, saying he's only concerned with the next game, Friday vs. the Raptors.
- Lionel Hollins Interview (Audio) - Joe Benigno & Evan Roberts - WFAN