Preview: Kings at Nets

SCOUTING REPORT

Here's HighTops ...

What can I say about the Nets, that you’d actually care to know? How about, if they don’t win 2 more games, which is highly likely, they will have less than half the number of wins that the Kings had last season? Also, if they won all 12 of their remaining games and Washington lost all of their remaining games, NJ would still be in last place in the East.

NJ is last in PPG with 91 and last in PPG differential, allowing opponents to score 10.3 more PPG. The Nets are last in FG% and 2nd to last in 3P%, but are 10th in FT% which begs the question, "Why do they shot so badly from the field?"  NJ is actually better at taking care of the ball than the Kings and are 12th in turnovers but it’s doesn’t help their offense much since they’re last in assists. Defensively they don’t foul as much as the Kings who are 3rd in fouls while NJ is 20th. But the Nets are 28th in rebounds, 23rd in blocks and 17th in steals.

New Jersey has yet to win a game in March, and their last win was a road victory against Boston February 27th.   They have lost their last 12 home games. And with only 12 games left, time is running out for them to win the three games necessary to avoid ending with the worst record in NBA history which is 9-73 presently held by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. And the Sacramento Kings without Tyreke Evans is one of the games that they have marked on the calendar.

New Jersey’s starters consist of 5 first-rounders and 4 lottery picks. Devin Harris and Courtney Lee make up the backcourt.   Harris, the 6-3 190lb 5th year PG, was the 5th pick of the 2004 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.   Harris eventually made it to Dallas and ended up being traded to NJ for Jason Kidd and draft picks in 2008.  Devin isn’t the best shooter averaging around 40% from the field and under 30% from three, but in March he’s producing 20.4pts/3.3rebs/6.1assts on 44% field, 34% from 3 and 90% from the FT line. Courtney Lee is a 6-5 200lb SG from Western Kentucky. He was the 22nd pick in the 2008 draft by Orlando and was traded to NJ in June in the deal that brought Vince Carter to Orlando.  As a starter, Lee is averaging 12.8pts/3.4rebs/1.8assts on 43% field, 33% from three and 87% from the FT line.

The center is Brook Lopez, the 7-0 265lb first year pro out of Stanford who was drafted 10th in the 2008 NBA draft.   Brook is averaging 18.8pts/8.8rebs on 50% from the field and 81% from the FT line.   In PTS/REB/ASTS, Lopez is ranked 3rd among Centers behind David Lee and Dwight Howard.

Terrence Williams and Yi Jianlian complete the frontcourt. Yi is a 7-0 250lb 2nd year PF, who was the 6th pick in the 2007 draft by the Bucks. Initially Yi refused to sign his rookie contract because Milwaukee didn’t have a large Chinese population. Eventually he got the trade he requested and on June 26, 2008, Yi was traded to the Nets for Richard Jefferson. Yi has had a history of injuries and only played 66 games his 1st season, 61, his first year with NJ, and has missed 30 games so far this season.  Yi Jianlian sprained his ankle in the March 6th game against the Knicks and just returned last Saturday against Toronto. Even so he’s having career highs in points and rebounds, averaging 11.7pts/6.7rebs but shoots a terrible 39% from the field for a big man.   He will put up a three 12-29 this season, and he shoots better than 75% from the FT line.   Williams is a 6-6 220lb rookie who was taken 11th in the 2009 draft.  Williams entered the draft known for his defense and inability to shot.   And, so far the poor shooting has been accurate, he’s only shooting 38.8% from the field, 31% from threes and 68% from the FT line, but his defense is yet to show up.   He’ averaging 7.4pts/4.1rebs/2.3 assts and almost no blocks and only .6 steals a game.

Chris Douglas-Roberts who started 38 games at SG, Trenton Hassell who started 31 games at SF, Kris Humphries a 6-9 235lb 5th year PF, Jarvis Hayes a 6-8 230lb 6th year pro, and Josh Boone a 6-10 240lb 3rd year center make up the bench.

Without Tyreke, NJ will focus on stopping Landry as evident by this comment from Lopez.

"(Landry) brings a presence down low, and we don’t get to play against Tyreke, so they’ll be more focused on him," said Nets center Brook Lopez.  "They’ll try to pound it in to him, and there’s a lot of stuff he can do down there."

Of course the same is true with NJ, who will go inside to Lopez at every opportunity, while Jarvis, Hayes and Lee put up a barrage of 3pt shots and though they don’t shot for average they can be very streaky and look out when they get hot.

The Kings aren’t going to win 30 games, but they aren’t going to let themselves be beaten by the Nets either.   The offense is producing without Evans and the defense has been improving since the addition of Landry.   Our strengths are similar to their strengths PG, PF, & Center, but the drop-off beyond that doesn’t favor the Nets.   And, I’m looking for Donte, Omri and Cisco to have good games, along with the rest of the bench.   New Jersey shot FT’s at a high percentage and we’ve lost more than our share of games at the charity strip, so we need to limit our fouls.   There’s no such thing as a sure bet, but if we control our turnovers and don’t get too fancy and just run our offense, the odds should be pretty high in our favor.

THE KEY BATTLE

Brook Lopez vs. Spencer Hawes. Lopez is a load, and he'll get his numbers. But Hawes and the other Kings bigs have to work Lopez sweat on defense. While he can block shots, he's hardly refined. The Kings frontcout is skilled offensively (if inconsistent), so here's hoping for trouble!

BOLD PROCLAMATION

The Nets will win. At life. Not at basketball.

DETAILS

4:30 PM start. Game threads at 4:30 and 5:45, and a post-gamer at 7:15.

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