PROJECTED STARTINGFIVE with 2006-07 statistics
This is an article from the Oct. 29, 2007 issue
KEY BENCH PLAYERS:F Bostjan Nachbar, C Jamaal Magloire*, G Marcus Williams, G-F Antoine Wright,F-C Sean Williams (R)
*New acquisition(R) Rookie
Record: 41-41 (6thin East) Points scored: 97.6 (15th in NBA) Points allowed: 98.3 (13th) Coach:Lawrence Frank (fifth season with Nets)
No one was moremiserable than Nenad Krstic. At least not in the Nets' training camp. During arecent practice, the 7-foot center trudged off the floor, head down, andcollapsed into a cushioned folding chair. Krstic's frustration was not borneout of playing poorly in the spirited scrimmage that had just ended, nor was ita result of fatigue from running the series of wind sprints that followed. Hewas upset because he wasn't able to participate in either activity.
The staff isclosely monitoring Krstic as he comes back from a torn left ACL. Before theDec.¬†22 injury Krstic, 24, was averaging a career-high 16.4 points. "Iwas playing well," he says. "When I heard my knee pop, it was like theend of the world."
Well, it was theend of Krstic's season and the beginning of a long rehabilitation process--onethat was derailed for five weeks after he sprained his left knee in early July."If I hadn't done that," says Krstic. "I would be playing at fullspeed right now." Krstic began scrimmaging again in early October, but eventhen his minutes were limited.
When Krstic doesreturn, he will be part of a new-look frontcourt. New Jersey drafted athleticpower forward Sean Williams out of Boston College and, after free agent MikkiMoore left for Sacramento, signed former All-Star center Jamaal Magloire to aone-year contract. "Jamaal brings toughness and physicality in themiddle," says coach Lawrence Frank. "He's a big brother type who willhave the guys' backs."
Frank hopes Krsticwill be one of those guys sooner rather than later; in the two-plus seasonsbefore Krstic's injury the Nets were 79-46 when he scored in double figures.But the team will play it safe. "We're not going to bring him back,"says Frank, "until we're sure he's not susceptible to anotherinjury."
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Nets
I'm a littlecautious in my view of the Nets because they're getting old--Vince Carter willbe 31 in January and Jason Kidd turns 35 in March--and because of all theirinjuries in recent years, including to Richard Jefferson and Nenad Krstic lastseason. . . . Carter settled for too many jumpers last year and didn't attackthe basket enough, which stagnated their half-court offense. He might be moreaggressive if he has his full complement of teammates. . . . They can find waysto increase Jefferson's productivity without disrupting the harmony of Kidd andCarter, because as those two erode physically, there may be more room forJefferson to score. It's still big for them that they have three players whocan get you 25 any night. . . . People are hot or cold on Jamaal Magloire, butI think he'll help them. He can rebound, and he's going to push and shove toget to the ball in garbage situations. If they get scoring from Krstic and thatgarbage mentality from Magloire, they'll be better off than they were lastyear.
In 2006-07 JasonKidd joined Oscar Robertson (five times) and Magic Johnson (twice) as the onlyplayers to average more than nine assists and eight rebounds in the sameseason. Kidd also had a career-high 12 triple doubles.
Krstic's return will make the revamped frontcourt whole.