At one end of thebench last season sat the team's part owner Jay-Z; at the other sat players soanonymous that they might as well have been lost members of Wu-Tang Clan. Nor,for a supporting cast, did the Nets' reserves provide much in the way ofsupport, averaging a combined 20.4 points last year, fourth worst in theleague.
So, gone arejourneymen Jacque Vaughn, Scott Padgett and Lamond Murray. In their stead arethree rookies: point guard Marcus Williams and power forward Josh Boone fromUConn, and Arizona swingman Hassan Adams--along with free-agent signee EddieHouse, a 28-year-old former Suns gunner. "Our young guys can't come in herethinking this season will be about an apprenticeship," says coach LawrenceFrank. "They have to prepare like they're going to be starters andunderstand the major roles they are going to be playing."
Boone will be outuntil at least December after left-shoulder surgery, but then he'll be countedon for a boost on the boards. (New Jersey's top two rebounders last season werea guard and a wing player.) Williams will be a key contributor from Day One,providing relief for Jason Kidd, who has been forced to play through injuriesbecause the Nets haven't had anyone else competent to run their motion offense.A productive Williams would enable the 33-year-old Kidd to play fewer minutesand save his legs for the playoffs. "I've never played with a guy who madethe game look so easy," says Williams. "I've got a long way to go, butI'm trying to watch him and learn everything that I can."
ProjectedStarting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 49--33 (4th in East)
Points scored: 93.8 (24th in NBA)
Points allowed: 92.4 (6th)
Coach: Lawrence Frank
(fourth season with the Nets)
|G||MARCUS WILLIAMS¬†* (R)||12.3 ppg||3.9 rpg||8.6 apg||0.91 spg||40.7 FG%|
|G||EDDIE HOUSE *||9.8 ppg||1.8 apg||0.52 spg||42.2 FG%||38.9 3FG%|
|F-C||CLIFFORD ROBINSON||6.9 ppg||3.3 rpg||0.50 bpg||0.55 spg||34.3 3FG%|
|F-C||MIKKI MOORE *||3.3 ppg||2.8 rpg||0.32 bpg||43.5 FG%||74.2 FT%|
|F-C||JOSH BOONE *¬†(R)||10.3 ppg||7.0 rpg||0.6 apg||2.03 bpg||56.4 FG%|
(R) ROOKIE (COLLEGE STATISTICS)
Enemy Lines Anopposing team's scout sizes up the Nets
At the one, twoand three they are the best in the league. And now they have four reallyoutstanding players with the emergence of Nenad Krstic, who's as good apick-and-pop center as any in the league.... Still, their defense isn't closeto what it was when they were going to the finals because they have nobody toguard the goal.... The good news with Vince Carter is that he's in a contractyear--he can opt out next summer--which means they should get his best. The badnews is that there's a good chance he'll sign with Orlando.... Jason Kidd stilldoes two things better than any point guard: He rebounds, and he dishes theball. His defense is another story. I used to think he was good, but did yousee how Indiana's Anthony Johnson torched him during the playoffs? ... The Netsused to run the Princeton offense about 80% of the time, but since Carterarrived in 2004, it's down to 50%. They've gone to more basic NBA stuff,baseline screens and staggers, to get the ball in his hands and let himcreate.
When Jason Kiddhad his ninth playoff triple double, in May against the Heat, he tied WiltChamberlain for third on the career list. Magic Johnson holds the record, with30.