Lopez has to direct better than ever for the Nets to find success this year.
Ed Szczepanski/Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Nets were hardly one of the most athletic teams in the NBA last season, and though this year's roster has changed to a degree, it hasn't improved much on those flaws. Tim Bontempts writes at the New York Post that those problems could cause further issues for the team's defense:
Markel Brown ended up entering the starting lineup during the second half of last year mostly because he was that bolt of energy for the first unit. And most importantly, he was the most effective on-ball defender on the squad.
Now though, Brown has been ruled out for the preseason, and who knows how much longer he'll be sitting? Alan Anderson, meanwhile, was arguably Brooklyn's best overall defender a season ago. Today, he's a member of the Washington Wizards.
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The Nets did get more athletic this offseason, adding some guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Thomas Robinson to the bench, but RHJ's offensive struggles might make the rookie unplayable at first and T-Rob has never shown to be the most dominant defensive presence.
It's true. Brooklyn could struggle on D.
“From a quickness perspective, we are what we are,” Hollins said after Tuesday’s practice at the team’s New Jersey facility. “We just have to deal with it.”
What the Nets are, at least in their starting lineup, is not very quick. The current starting five of Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez features one player (Young) who would be considered to have above-average athleticism for his position.
And while the combination of Young and Lopez can give the Nets some structure inside, it remains to be seen whether the trio of Jack, Johnson and Bogdanovic can give the Nets what they need on the perimeter to form a successful defense.
Last year, when that trio was on the court together, the Nets were outscored by 62 points in the 478 minutes they were on the court, and had a defensive rating of 114.5 points per 100 possessions — a number so bad, it would have been nearly five points per 100 possessions worse than the worst defense in the league (Minnesota).