Ed Davis is simply a one-year rental. Or is he?
Kenneth Faried is a salary dump. Or is he?
Alan Williams is just a two-way deal? Or is he?
Three seemingly random moves stretching from early July to mid-September that at first take seem very un-Nets-like. They don’t take 3-pointers ... among the three, they’ve made two in their career, both by Faried. They don’t score much either. None has averaged 10 points in a season. They certainly don’t qualify as “position-less” either. They’re unapologetically bigs.
Each does one thing well: rebound with a flourish, a huge Nets problem last season. With them, Brooklyn isn’t going to rely on undersized players like Quincy Acy or Dante Cunningham to back-up Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. No more retreads like Timofey Mozgov. No more experiments like Jahlil Okafor either.
The Nets finished 24th last year in offensive rebounding percentage; 20th in defensive rebounding. They were 25th in rebounding differential and were dominated (by 10 or more boards) on 16 separate occasions. On 27 occasions, opponents went for 20 points and at least 10 boards. Dwight Howard went for 32 and 30!
The three new guys could rectify that. Davis has a career rebounding average of 11.4 per 36 minutes. Faried is at 11.9 and Williams a whopping 15.0! (Not to get ahead of ourselves, but Davis playoff number is 13.7.) Each of the three also bring enthusiasm for their craft.
Take Faried, who of the three is probably the closest to getting a starting job either now or at some point during the season. He was arguably Brooklyn’s most notable acquisition this off-season. The power forward previously spent all seven NBA seasons with the Denver Nuggets.
The past two seasons have been rough for “The Manimal.” His role was cut to a bench player and his playing time slowly decreased due to Nuggets logjam upfront. Now a Brooklyn Net, the Newark native will receive a bigger role a chance to prove himself. He says he’s ready.
“We want to get results; we want to get wins,” he said. “The little things, the intangible things I do, I want to rub off on my teammates. My energy is contagious, so my energy when I was in the game doing the things I did with Denver were contagious around the whole team. The stadium, period.“
Williams’s enthusiasm was legendary in Phoenix, even last season when he sat for all but five games with a torn meniscus. Interim coach Jay Triano called him “one of the greatest teammates of all time.”
“I’m a fan of the game,” Williams said in the middle of last season. “I think that’s truly what it is when it comes down to it. I love the game of basketball so much that any capacity I can be around it gets me excited and it gets me hyped up.”
“They (his teammates) can be playing chess or a game of cards on the team plane and I’m over there talking, making noise and just bringing a lot of fun in life,” Williams said. “I think that’s important to have on a team.”
Davis is, at 29, the oldest and most experienced of the three. Much more low key than his new teammates, Davis says simply he enjoys “being the dawg.” And he revels in being the guy who can work with both younger players and veterans.
“I’m not fake with nothing I do,’’ Davis said last year. “And I think a lot of the guys respect that.’’
Faried may have been talking about the Nets as a whole earlier this summer, but he could just as easily been talking about him, Davis and Williams.
“We’re here to change that whole culture. We’re here to change all of that. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to continue that, but we’re going to be able to close out games now. We’re going to be able to do that; believe that. Our team believes that, our coaches believe that, and everybody else on the outside looking are going to figure that out sooner or later.”
Rebounding, not enthusiasm, will remain their measure, though. All three will be playing for new contracts this season. All are expiring. Davis has a one year, $4.4 million deal. Faried is at the tail end of a four-year, $50 million contract that will pay him $13.8 million. Williams, on the other hand, is on a two-way that at best can pay him a little more than $300,000 this season ... unless, of course, he gets called up. Expect that in some iteration. Players with three years’ NBA experience don’t regularly sign two-way deals.
There will be issues, like playing bigs without a lot of range in the Nets system. Acy and Cunningham, despite being undersized at the 4 and 5, did hit 40 percent of their 3-pointers after the All-Star Break. Of course, Allen has been perfecting his shot. So maybe that won’t be a problem.
And both Davis and Faried know how to run the pick-and-roll and Faried works best on post plays and lob catches. Luckily for Faried, the Nets run a small ball offense that can give him those touches.
Bottom line, and it’s a bit subtle, is that the acquisitions suggest that Marks is not interested in tanking the season. Davis, Faried and Williams fill the Nets biggest need from last year. If the Nets are going to make a difference, these three will be a big part of it.