With their 30 point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Brooklyn Nets have only one win in their last 8 contests. Most analysts named them in the Top 5 in the East but the Nets have given their fans nothing but disappointment.
The swagger the team carried after defeating the Miami Heat, in the their first match of the season at the Barclays Center, has been buried deep after embarrassing losses to teams like the Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats.
They are the worst team in the worst division of the league. At the start of the season, would you have expected to see the Sacramento Kings have a better record than the Nets? Or ever imagine that only two teams the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz would have a worse record than the Nets?
Well bet none of you did and speaking of unpleasant surprises, this time last year another team was going through a similar time. The 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets have a lot in common with last season’s Los Angeles Lakers, much more than just failing to step up to expectations.
Plus sized pay checks, pre-season dreams, regular season nightmares, stare fading and training tables being overloaded are few of the many similarities the teams share. To put it in short, the Lakers on court performance never matched their on paper talent and so far this season the Brooklyn Nets are headed in the same direction.
Injuries a cause for concern.
Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko have been hit with the injuries since training camp. While Williams missed his third in four games after reinjuring his ankle, Kirilenko missed his eighth straight game when the Nets took the floor against the Timberwolves at the Target Center.
Jason Terry joined the injury list, when the Nets visited the Twin cities, with a bruised knee which already had starting center Brook Lopez who missed his fourth straight game with an ankle problem of his own. Veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, acquired from Boston Celtics in the summer, have also missed games.
Jason Kidd has to rely on the likes of Shaun Livingston and Reggie Evans to fill in at the starting positions and so far Livingston has answered his coach’s call. The scariest news yet on these injuries is that none have a time table, thus making the player return date uncertain.
This might force Kidd to ask Joe Johnson to play a bigger role as a playmaker than he is known for and capable of, given his age.
Disasters on both ends
While the Lakers were stacked with offensive options, the Brooklyn Nets have multiple defensive options at their disposal.
The combination of Garnett and Lopez would be one of the best defensive front courts in the league, Williams has the athleticism that makes him capable of staying in front of any point guard in the league and Kirilenko was acquired to put pressure on the perimeter.
But, so far none of the above has gone according to plan. Lopez, Kirilenko and Williams aren’t on the floor most of the games and looks like father time is finally affecting Garnett’s performance.
While the defense has struggled, the offense is no pleasant sight either. They have slowly become one of the worst units in the league.
They rank 26th in overall defensive rating and are the worst team in the league defending pick and roll ball handlers.
Their offensive rating of 95.3 ranks them 22nd in the league. Only Utah Jazz (-11) have a worse points per game differential than -7.2 of the Nets.
The defense is quite naturally on a downward tailspin with the injuries that have hit the roster. However the offensive struggles can be seen in individual numbers also.
Johnson average of 13.4 points per game is his lowest in a decade. Pierce has shot 7 for 34 since returning from the groin strain three games ago. Garnett is averaging only 6.7 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Is it the coaching?
Last week, ESPN’s David Thorpe called Jason Kidd “the worst coach in the NBA”.
A veteran scout few days back admitted that Kidd s commitment on the bench has been close to nothing and the majority of offensive and defensive play calling has fallen to his top assistants.
While we focus on the players, their struggles and injuries it is quite often easy to forget that the team’s success depends a lot on the effectiveness of the coaching staff and Kidd sees that.
After the loss to the Portland Trailblazers, this is what Kidd had to say “I take the blame for this. We got stagnant on the offensive end, so that falls on my shoulders. We came out flat in the third quarter.”
Let’s be more reasonable and the give the future Hall of Famer more time at his job. After all he has no experience is coaching and was appointed head coach of the Nets just 9 days into his retirement.
So blaming Kidd alone would be unfair but it is certainly a factor contributing to the Nets woes this season.
How will it end for the Nets?
Fortunately it’s a question nobody else is going to be answering for the Nets. Their effort, commitment and will to finish higher are few factors among many which would decide how they finish at the end of the season.
It may be too early to hit the panic button and but the effort has to be made by players and coaches on and off the court to deliver. Injuries will heal someday but the Nets need to regroup and get some rhythm into their offense. They still have one of the most talented benches in the league.
So let’s hope the Nets hold on till their stars can get back from injury or return to form. All we can do is hope, but for the Nets it’s all in their hands.Published 24 Nov 2013, 09:29 IST