Before their team fell through a giant hole in the floor like Marv in Home Alone 2, the New Jersey Nets had — at least stats-wise — the most offensively potent backcourt in the NBA. Last year, Devin Harris had his breakout season in Jersey, while Vince Carter had what now looks like his last go-round scoring 20 points a night. Together, they took an overachieving squad within a couple of games of a playoff spot.
With Vince in Orlando this year, and Devin’s numbers dropping during an injury-plagued campaign, the Nets piled up 70 losses and need help just about everywhere. Lucky for them, N.J. has the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in the Lottery next Tuesday, where Kentucky point guard John Wall is everybody’s top prospect.
“I’d be shocked if anyone took anybody but John Wall number one,” said Nets President Rod Thorn in today’s Newark Star-Ledger.
Which of course brings up the question: If the Nets end up with Wall, are they going to trade Devin Harris or keep both point guards on the roster?
“Well, we have different things to consider, and we’re not there yet,” Thorn said. “Can they play together? We have to discuss it. I know this, we’ll have the fastest backcourt anywhere. But you know what, let’s see what happens on the 18th first. We’ll answer that when the time comes.”
Thorn did admit he’s already received calls from teams inquiring around Harris.
Unless an NBA team gets the No. 1 pick and the top prospect is a no-brainer like LeBron or Tim Duncan, executives never want to tip their hand going into the Draft; they need to keep their options open for trades and keep a strong position in rookie contract negotiations.
Harris is an All-Star, but he’s not exactly Clyde Drexler standing in the way of Portland taking Michael Jordan, or even Tayshaun Prince standing in the way of Detroit taking Carmelo. If the Nets get the top pick, they’re taking Wall. Harris is more like Zach Randolph in L.A. before the Clippers got Blake Griffin. Expendable, good enough to bring back solid talent, only without the off-court baggage that makes a trade easily explainable. One player (sans LeBron or D-Wade in free agency) isn’t going to be The Savior in New Jersey, so flipping Harris for a number of picks and future cap space isn’t a bad option when you look at it long-term.
For the record, though, I think Wall and Harris can play together. The way the NBA game is played now, a pair of point guards can share the floor, especially in three-guard lineups. We saw it this season with Chris Paul and Darren Collison in New Orleans, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich in Chicago, Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea in Dallas, Brandon Jennings and Luke Ridnour in Milwaukee, Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih in Sacramento, and Tony Parker and George Hill in San Antonio.
The biggest area of concern with having two PG’s out there is the challenge of defending bigger guards, but Wall is a solid 6-4 and pretty strong; if Monta Ellis can put the clamps on Brandon Roy when he puts his mind to it, Wall can hold his own against NBA shooting guards.
For the sake of everybody’s comfort, it probably would be easier if the Nets wound up No. 2 and got Evan Turner to slide right into Vince’s footsteps at the two. But if the opportunity to draft John Wall presents itself, New Jersey should take it, and keep Devin Harris.