[Preview courtesy of Nets Daily, authored by 'cpawfan.']
Because their preseason includes a trip to China for a pair of games against the Rockets, the Nets will open training camp three days earlier than most teams. They will hold their annual media day on Friday, Sept. 24, and then begin two-a-day sessions on Saturday.
After a disastrous 12-70 season, there's no doubt that the Nets will be an improved team. But there are a lot of questions to be answered. Here are five critical ones as the Nets open camp.
1) Who has the edge for the starting shooting guard spot?
With last season's starter shipped out in the Troy Murphy trade, the Nets have two very different players vying to be Devin Harris' running mate in the backcourt.
The Nets acquired sweet shooting 6-foot-5 Anthony Morrow in a sign-and-trade deal this summer. Morrow is known for his 46 percent career 3-point mark, but so far hasn't demonstrated any other strengths in his game. He will be competing with last year's lottery pick, 6-foot-6 Terrence Williams.
Williams had a pretty rocky rookie season, but played a well-rounded game in March and April, including one triple double and a Rookie of the Month award. Both players would bring a unique dynamic to the starting lineup, but with a no-nonsense coaching staff they are going to have to earn that spot.
2) Is Brook Lopez in shape?
We last saw Lopez play basketball in July during USA Basketball tryouts and he didn't look good. He was clearly not yet over the effects of his bout with mono. Reports indicated that Lopez lost over 25 pounds and he did look weak and poorly conditioned.
In early August, when Lopez announced he was withdrawing from Team USA consideration, Billy King said, "Brook obviously felt that he had not made sufficient enough recovery from his bout with mononucleosis earlier this summer, but we feel confident he will be fully recovered by the start of training camp on September 25." Now that camp is here, it is time to see if King was correct.
3) What type of offense will the Nets run?
In Dallas, Avery Johnson had a very efficient, yet slow-paced offense, based around the unique talents of Dirk Nowitzki. Johnson has also written a chapter for a basketball book that describes his philosophy of an attacking offense that keeps the ball moving by swinging it side to side if it can't find a direct drive to the basket or a layup.
The Nets have a center who can score with his back to the basket, a point guard who is at his best attacking the basket, shooters on the wing and at power forward, as well as a second-year wing with excellent court vision and the ability to create shots for others. We aren't sure what all of this adds up to, but we know that it has to be a lot better than last season.
4) How ready is Derrick Favors?
A quick Google search for "Derrick Favors" and "raw" turned up over 10,000 results. He was 18 years old on draft night and at the pre-draft camp, he had strikingly similar physical measurements to a pre-draft Dwight Howard. Yet he fell to the third pick in the draft because he didn't have a polished offensive game and many pundits and scouts viewed him as a project. With the trade for Troy Murphy, the Nets are in a position to wait for Favors to develop, but the question is how soon will he start demonstrating what Billy King calls his "unbelievable potential."
5) Which players will push their way into the rotation?
The Nets appear to have a solid eight man rotation in Harris, Jordan Farmar, Morrow, Williams, Travis Outlaw, Murphy, Lopez and Favors. However, the regular season is filled with minor injuries, long road trips and back-to-backs.
To make it through the season, the Nets are going to need at least two more players to step up for the regular rotation, as well as deep reserves who are ready to play when called upon. Two players seem to have the early lead for those rotation spots.
Rookie Damion James impressed several people with his summer league play and Johan Petro was signed to a three-year, $10 million contract. Both players will have to earn their time against experienced journeymen who understand how to play the game in Joe Smith, Quinton Ross and Stephen Graham.