When talking about the NBA’s top young cores, it seems like everybody is riding Thunder’s bandwagon. And deservingly so. With Durant, Green, Westbrook and now Harden, the future is going to be scary. Memphis and Minnesota’s young talent is also generating a lot of buzz all over hoops blogs and websites. One young core that is not getting any love is the New Jersey Nets. Scanning the roster up and down, I can not only see then being relevant in the East a few years down the line, but I can also see them being relevant this year.
I think after they traded Vince Carter down to Orlando this offseason, a lot of people wrote them off for this upcoming year. Like, “Oh, they don’t care about winning this season, they’re getting ready for signing LeBron or Wade in 2010,” or “They’re going to tank it so they can get John Wall or Ed Davis.” While management is certainly looking ahead to next summer, I believe they could potentially make some kind of postseason run this year.
The Nets have one of the best young point guards in the game in Devin Harris. Last year, the 26-year-old guard averaged 21.3 points, 6.9 assists and 1.7 steals a game and made his first all-star team. He is starting to enter his prime and will surely improve on those numbers this upcoming season. With VC gone, Harris is expected to step up as the team’s leader. Newly acquired backup Rafer Alston adds leadership and playoff experience to this young squad.
Carter’s departure also opens up opportunities for Courtney Lee and rookie Terrence Williams. Lee had some big moments in last year’s playoffs and should blossom in a fast-paced offense. T-Will in my opinion is going to be on the All-Rookie First Team. I’ve been president of the Terrence Williams fan club since he was at Louisville. He can play three positions, defend three positions and I can see him averaging 14-5-5. Between him, Lee, Harris and Chris Douglas-Roberts, the Nets will be one of the fastest and most exciting teams in transition.
If Jersey is going to make a run at the playoffs they will need a breakout year from third-year forward Yi Jianlian. Last year, Yi started the season strong but fizzled out near the end. He has the skill set, he just needs to get more comfortable on the court. Brook Lopez also had a solid rookie year averaging 13 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.8 bpg. He has all-star potential and the right work ethic so he will be an even bigger beast in the paint in ’09-10.
Last year, the Nets won 34 games and were just five games out of the eight spot. Although some basketball sites predict them being the worst team in the East, I see them coming close to that 30-35 win mark again this season.
What do you guys think of the Nets’ young core of Harris, Yi, Lopez, Lee and Williams? Will they be competitive this year?
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