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2008-09 NBA Draft Kit: New Jersey Nets Preview

October 13, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. Before you pass out in a tryptophan-induced haze, let’s bring you more of The 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit.

Jason Kidd is gone, as is Richard Jefferson, Nenad Krstic and Jason Collins. A new day has truly dawn in the Swamplands.

After years as an Eastern Conference power, the Nets fell apart last year, ostensibly bottoming out at 34 wins, a precipitous enough fall that team management finally threw in the towel and realized that a complete overhaul was in order.

But who would have ever thought the last man left standing would be Vince Carter, rumoured to be the first one out when Jersey decided to blow it up. Instead, this is now VC’s team – a scary proposition for those who remember how he bailed on the Raptors during his final season in Toronto.

Fortunately, there are some nice young pieces in place to build around should Vinsanity pull another spoiled child act.

Getting Devin Harris from Dallas for J-Kidd was a fantastic move. Up the middle, Josh Boone made nice strides in his sophomore season and Sean Williams has tremendous potential, and should one day lead the league in blocks.

The RJ to Milwaukee deal netted Jersey Yi Jianlian, coming off a disappointing rookie season, but now fully healthy and ready to explode as an offensive force. Versatile Bobby Simmons, also part of the booty the Nets received, could be quite valuable if he can stay healthy and rediscover his form of a couple of seasons ago.

The future looks bright for the Nets, which is great news, considering that the present could be painful. The Atlantic is no longer the Titanic Division, especially after virtually every team made a big time move in the offseason to get better, while Jersey was in rebuilding mode.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Devin Harris
SG: Vince Carter
SF: Bobby Simmons
PF: Yi Jianlian
C: Brook Lopez/Josh Boone

Key bench players: Sean Williams, Eduardo Najera, Stromile Swift, Keyon Dooling

Position Battles

The key battle will be in the frontcourt, where rookie Lopez and third-year man Boone will slug it out to see who emerges as the starting centre. There’s a chance the loser could bump Yi to the bench at the four slot, complicated matters further. Personally, I’d really like to see Boone get close to 30 MPG, because I think he has double-double potential. Coach Lawrence Frank, however, is not afraid to put a first year man like Lopez in the starting five, and why not? The Nets could be better this year, but aren’t ready to get back into the mix as an Eastern Conference contender.

Stud: There’s no obvious fantasy stud on this rebuilding squad, but Harris is definitely someone I’d like on my team. He took almost no time to become a key cog on the Nets after last year’s deal, and other than the fact his FG percentages slipped, he was a seriously better player in the Swamp. This offense is all his now, and I see Harris taking another big step forward this season.

Dud: Carter is the lone leftover from when the team was last good, and he’s a notorious sucky baby when toiling for a weak team. The fact that he tweaked his hamstring in the first pre-season game is a definite sign. No way does VC play heavy minutes this year, so don’t pay for a marquee player, because you won’t be getting one.

Sleeper: Who knows how much PT he’ll see with Boone and Lopez ahead of him, but I am so intrigued by the athletic ability of Williams. Give this kid near starter minutes, and sit back and watch one serious block party ensue.

Rookies to watch: Obviously, Lopez is the main man here, but also keep an eye on Chris Douglas-Roberts. He lit it up when Carter went down in the pre-season opener, so should VC go into another one of his pouting periods, Douglas-Roberts could see some decent minutes off the bench. PF Ryan Anderson also intrigues me very much because of his scoring ability, but I doubt he’ll see much time this year.

Fantasy Stories to Watch

Is Carter’s hamstring tweak the start of another 2004-05 campaign for him? If I were a Net fan, I’d have a very bad feeling about this one.

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