Nets starting five look ahead

New Jersey Nets’ Brook Lopez takes a shot during NBA basketball practice Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 in East Rutherford, N.J.
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Last year Tyson Chandler helped to lead Dallas to its first championship in the National Basketball Association. This year in a late start to the season because of a strike, the center would like to do the same for the New York Knicks, who acquired him just before the pre-season started.

On the other side and across the river, among the possible starting five for the New Jersey Nets, the center will be returnee Brook Lopez, who started in all 82 games last season. Second-year coach Avery Johnson of the Nets will be depending a lot on him as he made a name for himself in the NBA.

Things are looking up for both of the local teams as the Nets are playing for their final year at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, as they are moving their franchise to a new home in downtown Brooklyn come next September. Now the two teams will be located near each other, just across the river and a short subway ride away.

However, from the looks of things to come, the Nets should be improved but how much in a tough league is another question. They still have to move up in the standings as they compete with Boston, Chicago, Miami, Orlando and the Knicks.

There is no real big front court player who could see action at that position as well as Brook Lopez, in his third year as a member of the Jersey five. He can score, rebound and play the position very well. That is his forte. Still, they must improve on all phases of the game if they want to go places.

Everybody, all New Yorkers, would like for the Nets to move to Brooklyn, except, of course, for those fans living in New Jersey, Having a solid and contending team will definitely help them. On the court they did bring back to the met area two familiar names in assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo and Mario Elie. The latter played his high school basketball in Manhattan. Both are very well known here in the tri-state area.

Meanwhile, with a strong front line, the Knicks have that offense and defense up front but in the backcourt, they might be hurting a little bit since they traded away Chauncey Billups, an all-star guard, who knew what playoffs are all about. He played in 72 games with Denver and the Knicks last year. In addition, he became inactive for a while with a bruised left quad during a game. He can feed off also and also put points in the basket from the backcourt position. He certainly will be missed from the line-up.

Net Head Coach Avery Johnson who is excited to see all the players back in action is seeing them enjoy what they have to do on the court.

Before their first pre-season contest Johnson said that he would like to see his players play and run hard.

“I like to see our point guard try to go coast to coast and see us create some more turnovers,” he said. “We have a lot of areas we want to improve on. From an offensive stand point we had about 100 different plays last year. Hopefully, we can run more of our offense.”

Johnson was impressed with the way center Tyson Chandler played while in Dallas last year. He finished among the top 10 in the NBA with about a nine rebound average.

“If he played the way he did with the Mavricks last year, he’ll be a solid edition for the Knicks,” Johnson said after the first exhibition game, a victory by the Knicks over the Nets. “He has experience and blocks shots. He has championship experience.”

And he must bring it to New York!

While the Nets have some question marks, the Knicks possess a solid front line of7-1 Chandler at center, 6-8 Carmelo Anthony, at one forward position, and 6-11 Amar’e Stoudimire at the other spot, and 6-7 Landry Fields, who has a lot of potential to make it big in the league, and 6-2 Toney Douglas in the backcourt. Douglas could be the starting point guard.

The Knicks have some solid reserves more so than the Nets. Included is Mike Bibby, the oldest Knick, for he is in his 13th year in the league. He could be battling for a starting position.

“Mike is a veteran point guards who we know can be successful in our systemn,” said senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Interim General Manager Glen Grunwald. “He is an effective player who has a long track record of leading his teams to post season success.”

Bibby is a known name with the Knicks, for Mike’s father Henry Bobby played at one time for New York.

Head Coach Mike D’Antoni really feels very optimistic and confident about the season especially with the new additions, who raise the level of play in almost every category.

It starts with defense and with it the offense should take care of itself and put figures up on the board. Hopefully, the Knicks will be a lot better and challenge for a first place finish at least in their division. Many things on the court have to fall into place. The coaches have to get the guys on the same page. This is thus the team at least for now at this writing the Knicks will field.

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