It’s Friday, January 5, and the Brooklyn Nets need a win badly. A five-game skid has dropped them to five games under .500, and the fans need something, anything to cheer about. Before the Nets took on the Oklahoma City Thunder, trying to provide that positivity, Jacque Vaughn addressed the media in his usual pregame presser.
Editor’s note: Not all questions/answers from the press conference are in this article.
Q: Lonnie Walker is back tonight after 17 consecutive absences, what are you looking forward to seeing from him?
JV: Yeah, just gives us another guy that helps us on both ends of the floor. Before Lonnie got hurt, his ability to get to the rim and draw attention to the paint, he has the athletic ability to get downhill, to win some one-on-one battles and then, which was interesting, his ability to kick out also gave us open threes. So, and then a guy that could guard on the defensive end of the floor, multiple positions. So, missed him, he will be on a minute restriction. What that is I’m not gonna tell you, but he will be on a minutes restriction.
Q: What are you seeing from the defense lately, any changes coming down the pike?
JV: I’m more inclined to wrap my my big arms around analytics more than I ever have been. And during probably the last 12 games we’re seventh in expected PPP [points per possession], defensively. So everyone’s talked about our offensive struggles, we’re seventh in expected PPP but 26 actual. So that means we had some [bad] luck, and some teams have made some threes on us. So defensively, we actually have taken the step of doing some really good things.
Now, the next step is finishing possessions. There’s probably five or six possessions vs. Houston where they end up hitting a shot at the end of — three seconds on the shot clock. So that’s an extra scramble, that is an extra close-out with a little bit more ferocity to it, and that’s making sure we come up with the rebound. I think overall our group has wrapped their heads around how we want to play defense.
Q: Ben Simmons update?
JV: He actually had a workout today and still progressing, which is good. The ability to get on court with multiple bodies around him. So that’s kind of where he’s at and just building from here. So some good signs moving forward...
We don’t [have a timeline for his return]. We’re just got to continue to see how his strength measurements continue to build and just increasing the stimuli for him, whether that’s multiple bodies around him, whether that’s coaches and players moving forward, so nothing that has set him back from progressing.
Tip-off against the Oklahoma City Thunder is set for 7:30 p.m. ET from the Barclays Center.