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Team Preview: New Jersey Nets

Not a whole lot changed in New Jersey after a moderately successful season in which the Nets easily won their (absolutely pathetic) division and took a series in the playoffs before losing to the eventual champions, the Heat. It’s still a three-man team, although Nenad Krstic’s emergence should take a bit of the offensive load off the big three. All the new additions are very minor pieces that might be able to give the Nets some stability on the bench, but this looks like a team with four definite fantasy contributors and nobody else who’s even worthy of a bench spot in deep leagues.

The Stud: Vince Carter, GF
He wasn’t as good as he was in his Jersey debut in 04-05, but we sort of knew that would be the case. He was still plenty effective and finished a very solid 21/23 on the player rater. It might be time to give Carter the benefit of the doubt when it comes to health, as long as things remain stable in New Jersey and he has nothing to complain about. He’s missed just eight games over the past two seasons and should continue to see big minutes since New Jersey has limited offensive weapons. He’s a perfectly safe bet for 25/6/4 with average percentages for his position. There will still be some people who will pass on him simply because they don’t like him, and you know what? That’s fine. This stuff should still be fun and if one of your best players is someone you don’t enjoy rooting for, then don’t take him. That said, you probably shouldn’t pass on him in the third round.

The Support: Jason Kidd, PG
He was the highest rated player on the team last year, but we’ll put him in the second slot. Kidd is obviously someone who should be gone within the first 25 picks, as he finished an impressive 12/17 on the player rater last season. It’s tough to bank on him staying completely healthy for a second consecutive season, though. Kidd missed only the last two games of the season, so it was basically a perfect season of health, something you probably wouldn’t have guessed for a 33 year-old with bad knees. Marcus Williams looked fantastic in the summer league and the Nets might have finally found that backup point guard that can take some of the pressure off Kidd, leading to fewer minutes. It would still be quite surprising if Kidd didn’t see 35 mpg, but if you look at Kidd’s stats and his age, you can’t reasonably expect things to get better. Best case scenario is he maintains his numbers from last year – which include some of his lowest ever averages in points, assists and steals – and it’s quite possible he’ll see some continued ever-so-slight decline and won’t be as fortunate in the health department. He’s by no means someone to avoid, but he’s not someone to reach for.

The Supporting Support: Richard Jefferson, SF
What you see is what you get at this point with Jefferson. He’ll never be a true fantasy superstar because he just doesn’t help enough in any of the specialty categories, but he remains a solid all-around contributor whose strength in the percentages shouldn’t be overlooked. It was very encouraging to see him take his FG% back to its established level after a huge drop to 42% in 04-05 when he had to carry the burden of the offense. He was an impressive 34/39 on the player rater and might not be the most exciting pick in the fourth round, but he’s as steady as they come.

The Sleeper: Eddie House, G
Hey, you look at this roster and try to find a sleeper. House was a ridiculously explosive scorer last year in Phoenix in those rare opportunities when he got the chance. House was 23rd in the league in points per minute; the names above him are basically the all-star rosters. So that counts for something. Phoenix was the perfect place for House to fire away at will when he got the chance, and it’s no sure thing he’ll get that chance in New Jersey. Still, anyone who managed to attempt 4 3pg in just 17.5 mpg should at least be on fantasy radars.

The Slacker: Nenad Krstic, C
An impressive breakout campaign on offense, but beware the center who gets outrebounded by his PG and who doesn’t block even a shot per game. Granted, there’s no better PG rebounder than Jason Kidd, but the point is that he’s helping to clear those boards, leaving fewer for Krstic. Krstic finished just 92/117 on the player rater last year, and an impressive playoff performance combined with the usual scarcity at center may make him an overvalued commodity on draft day. He’s sort of an improved version of Primoz Brezec, which isn’t anything to get too excited about. Now, he is just 23 years old and could show serious improvement, but it’s not like he’s going to suddenly become a shot-blocking machine. It looks to be a skill he just doesn’t possess. Getting 6.4 rpg and 0.8 bpg from your #1 center puts you in a serious hole in those categories. And it’s not like he’s giving you 5 apg like Brad Miller. Better in real life than fantasy.

Double Dribbles: Jason Collins really has to be the most worthless fantasy player for how many minutes he gets. A 7-footer with percentages of 40/51, who simply cannot score and has no discernable talents whatsoever. How does he still have a starting job? … A horribly timed marijuana suspension won’t keep Cliff Robinson out of the league. He’s back for another season with the Nets and could find some marginal value in very deep leagues if the Nets ever become disillusioned with Collins. Pretty unlikely, though … Marcus Williams won’t be worth having on a roster unless Jason Kidd goes down, and even then the Nets might not feel comfortable giving the rookie tons of PT. Keep an eye on him, though – he has the ability to rack up assists and 3s.

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