Commentary: Those Nets Sure Are Sharp
My initial reaction to this report left me speechless. The Nets? Doing something bold and, dare I say, borderline exceptional? It can’t be!
No matter which center they end up with, be it Tyson Chandler or Nene, this move would be so out of left field, so crazy, so cunning…it’d be genius. My favorite part—and make no mistake, there are multiple reasons to love it—is how it oozes a risky, creative flavor. To take your traditional franchise-shouldering seven-foot center, whose mind state can be nicely characterized as sensitive, and tell him he’s no longer the center, is daring. What if he breaks down and cries on his agent’s Yves Saint Laurent suit? What if he demands a trade to Phoenix or threatens to become a professional wrestler?
This isn’t likely, but professional sports has in fact seen more unreasonable reactions from its working force. But should Lopez be emotionally secure with the deal, this pairing makes too much sense, partly due to his ability to spot up with a fairly legitimate jump shot. According to Hoopdata, last season Lopez took 3.6 shots per game from 16-23 feet, placing him fifth among all centers who appeared in at least 66 games (Lopez shot 39%). Nene is second to Dwight Howard in attempts at the rim (5.9) with a surly 71.5%, and pairing that relentless inside presence with a feathery outside touch is an offensively minded basketball strategist’s twisted fantasy.
Here are some more Pros and Cons:
The Pros: Matching Deron Williams with either Nene or Tyson Chandler the Nets have promise to become an east coast version of Los Angeles’ Gasol and Bynum dynamic duo. Much has been made of Brook Lopez and his heart-stopping fear of grabbing missed shots last year, but looking at it from an optimistic—hopefully not naïve—point of way, there’s no way he gets worse. Putting two seven-footers together poses incredibly disastrous issues for offenses everywhere. They’d feed off one another (especially if it’s Chandler) and in no time, give their perimeter defending teammates more confidence to gamble, jumping passing lanes and what not.
What should also be mentioned is the fact that Avery Johnson won a championship playing beside the greatest Twin Tower duo of all time, Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Not that these two are in the same league as those guys, but Johnson should be capable of getting the most out of them with a few reliable sets. It won’t look foreign.
If for whatever reason things don’t work out, Lopez has a $4.2 million qualifying offer on the table after this season. They don’t need to retain him, and instead could simply have Chandler/Nene serve as a replacement. This isn’t a suitable situation, but both players (when matched with Deron Williams) are better than Lopez, so the move still looks foolproof.
The Cons: No Dwight Howard. There’s obviously no promise New Jersey gets him if they wait until next summer, when heavyweight contenders like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles will all be set to square off in the biggest bidding war since…two years ago, but this burns that bridge to embers before there’s the slightest opportunity of it taking place. This is bad, but not the end of days. If the Nets grab either Chandler or Nene—the former standing as the second or third most imposing defensive big man in the game, and the latter as either the first or second most efficient with the ball in his hands—then the drop off from Howard isn’t too far, and pairing one of them with Brook Lopez would still form one of the game’s most devastating front courts, relieving pressure on both big guys as they conjoin in their best efforts. I’ll stop writing this section now before it slowly morphs into a “Pros” argument. What’s not to like?