Thursday, October 15, 2009

Preseason Hype: The Backcourt

One thing I've learned as a basketball fan is that preseason performances usually mean jack shit. However, I can't help but getting myself worked up over certain aspects of preseason each year. This month, I'll interject with random ramblings based on meaningless exhibition games.

The Hype:Boy, is there a glut in the backcourt! The Nets might be the deepest team in the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. Between those three positions, there are eight players - young and old - jockeying for playing time. All of them have legitimate cases to earn over 20 minutes a game. Let's run it down:

Devin Harris: The current face of the franchise, the All-Star, and one of only two guaranteed starters on the roster.

Courtney Lee: A starter on an NBA Finals team who was traded for a franchise superstar and expected to fill his big shoes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that Devin Harris' story?

Chris Douglas-Roberts: Had an unimpressive rookie year, but has been playing very well this preseason. Without consistent playing time, the Nets will not figure out what they have in him.

Keyon Dooling: He put in a terrific season last year, probably one of the best by a Nets backup point guard in a decade. He's battling a hip injury, but should be fine for the season opener.

Rafer Alston: Another starter from last year's Eastern Conference champions. He's the oldest of this bunch, but can still start on many teams.

Terrence Williams: The first-round pick receiving a lot of hype. "The Superstar of Practice". He'll probably get limited minutes at first, but needs to have opportunity to grow.

Jarvis Hayes, Bobby Simmons: Two players who can do yeoman's work at the small forward (and in Simmons case, occasionally power forward) position. They probably will not be on the team next year, but they provide veteran presence, and will need to play to make sure the Nets aren't blow out every game.

Having too much depth is a wonderful problem to have, and it will be interesting to see how Lawrence Frank plays them, or who Rod Thorn trades.

The Reality: Depth can disappear quickly. In 2003, after re-signing Jason Kidd and signing Alonzo Mourning, the Nets were stuck with three starting centers - Jason Collins, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutumbo. So Rod Thorn bought out Mutumbo. Then, within a month, Alonzo Mourning went out for the season, and the Nets' depth went from three to one.

Players WILL get hurt. Courtney Lee has been nicked up all preseason. Devin Harris has had some ankle issues the last two years. Dooling is recovering from a hip injury. Rafer and Simmons are getting older.

Furthermore, the young players MAY be awful. Delano and Terrence-osaurus are producing in preseason, but it is only that - preseason. When the lights turn on, they could wilt. Furthermore, the older players may find themselves in decline.

So, while this looks very deep in these positions on paper, this competitive advantage could quickly disappear in the regular season. But hey, it is preseason, which means it is Team Hype time.

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