I chatted with my friend Devin Kharpertian who covers the Nets as the managing editor of The Brooklyn Game, a partner of New York's YES Network. He was kind enough to answer my questions during this suddenly-busy past few days.
1. After winning 5 in a row, the Nets have gone 3-10 since. What the heck is going on?
They've fallen apart. Once Brook Lopez hit the injury list with a mild right foot strain, the Nets rotations got completely thrown out of whack -- Andray Blatche (who's been oddly good) got thrown into the starting lineup, and while the starters didn't lose a ton of effectiveness, losing Blatche from the bench mob left the rest of the game in disarray. Former Coach Avery Johnson was using 17-25 different lineups in any given game just trying to rekindle the magic, and it just hasn't been there.
2. The Nets just fired head coach Avery Johnson. Did Deron William's offensive skill set jell with Johnson's offense?
It's really hard to say. Williams has struggled immensely since joining the Nets, particularly shooting the ball. His on-the-floor moves are all there -- the quick crossovers, in-and-out dribbles, and laser passes -- but his shot's just been off. He's hesitating way too much, particularly pump-faking and driving in the lane. He'll beat his man, then throw a quick fake that's just long enough to let the defense recover instead of just attacking the basket. Hard to really blame that on Johnson. I guess we'll find out over the next four years.
3. What is their largest weakness?
Defending everything. For what it's worth, I'd argue that relative to expectation, the offense has struggled more than the defense, but the Nets just have far more offensive talent. Brook Lopez has improved slightly when he's 100%, but he's still not very good, and Blatche's resurgence has come mostly on the offensive end. Deron Williams is notoriously bad in any off-ball situation, and Joe Johnson has underwhelmed. Of the starters, only non-Cardboard Gerald Wallace is a consistently reliable, energetic defender, and of the bench mob, I'm only comfortable with Reggie Evans and kind-of Keith Bogans.