Team Preview #21: New Jersey Nets
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilAugust 31st, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Nets went 34-48 and missed the Playoffs for the first time in 7 years. Sensing a need to re-build, they traded away the 35-year old future Hall of Famer (Kidd) for a promising 25-year old (Devin Harris).
Despite having an average 91.5 pace factor (16th), they finished 25th in scoring, 25th in field goals attempted, and 25th in FG%.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Yi Jianlian, Simmons, Dooling, Najera, Hayes, B. Lopez, Douglas-Roberts, R. Anderson
Key Losses: Richard Jefferson, Bostjan Nachbar, Marcus Williams, DeSagana Diop, Nenad Krstic
The Nets continued their re-building process over the summer by trading away Richard Jefferson for Jianlian & Bobby Simmons. Nachbar & Krstic both bounced to go play in Russia, Diop returned to Dallas, and Williams was traded to Golden St. for a future 1st round pick. They were replaced by 3 solid veterans (Keyon Dooling, Eduardo Najera & Jarvis Hayes) and 3 promising rookies (Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts & Ryan Anderson).
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMELet's start at point, where Devin Harris is now running the show. He averaged 33.6 minutes after landing in New Jersey, so I'll bump that up to 34 for '08-09. At shooting guard, Vince Carter played nearly 40 minutes after the break and played much better with Harris in the lineup. He wants to prove that he can win without Kidd, so he should be good for 38 solid minutes every night. Keyon Dooling will be the first guard off the bench, and should get 16-20 minutes backing up both spots.
At small forward, Bobby Simmons, Jarvis Hayes, Trenton Hassell & Chris Douglas-Roberts will all battle for minutes. I'm projecting 30-32 minutes for Simmons and 14-16 minutes for Hayes, while CDR & Hassell fight for the scraps. The Nets have several unproven big men capable of playing 20+ minutes, which is why I'd like to issue this warning...
BE CAREFUL OF: All of their big menIf the Nets could roll the mid-range shooting touch of Yi, the strength & rebounding skills of Boone, the length & low post moves of Lopez, the uber-athleticism of Williams, the mobility of Swift, the 3-point shooting of Anderson, and the hustle, IQ & intangibles of Najera all into one, they'd have perhaps the best big man in the league. But alas, those are 7 different players with their own weaknesses. Quantity over quality???
Most people have Yi Jianlian penciled in as the opening night starter at power forward. While he's got nice potential, he has yet to prove that he can be a reliable rotation player. In 53 starts last season, Boone pulled down an impressive 8.3 rebounds in just 29.1 minutes, but he's a horrible free throw shooter and doesn't block a lot of shots, so his upside is limited. Brook Lopez is a better offensive player than his brother Robin, but he shot just 46.8% from the field in college. So if you think he's going to come in and average 15 ppg as rookie, you're taking a big risk. Thanks to his freakish length and leaping ability, Sean Williams has perhaps the most fantasy potential of any of New Jersey's bigs. In 29 starts as a rookie, he swatted a whopping 1.93 shots in just 23.4 minutes of action, but his minutes will likely fall with Lopez around.
Now that he's buried at the end of the bench, Stromile Swift is probably wondering what happened to his career (either that, or he doesn't care). 2nd round pick Ryan Anderson made nearly 2 threes per game last year at Cal while shooting 41% 3P. He's not a very physical player, but he could get some minutes thanks to his outside shooting. And last but not least is the grizzled vet Najera. The talented Mexican has been an impact player ever since he came into the league, and he'll be one of the leaders on this squad sporting 8 guys 25 years or younger. He'll be the Nets' most versatile & reliable big man, so he's a lock to play 20+ minutes per game. As a result, NONE of New Jersey's bigs will receive 30+ minutes (unless several guys get hurt), limiting the fantasy value of all of them.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Bobby SimmonsIt's rare for a team to only have 2 fantasy-worthy players, so a 3rd Net should have value in '08-09. I'm expecting that man to be Bobby Simmons, a guy who will likely go undrafted in most leagues due to his poor stats from last season. If you remember his '04-05 campaign for the Clippers, Simmons played like a badass and was named the Most Improved Player of the league. He hasn't been the same since, but injuries have played a part in that.
If he earns more than the 30-32 minutes that I'm projecting, then 15 points, 5 boards, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 threes with decent %'s is not out of question. While none of those numbers stand out, they're solid across the board. If you need a swingman in the last round, there are worse players that you can gamble on.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Carter: 3rd - 4th