For tonight's home game against the New Jersey Nets, I talked to forum member ly_yng from Nets Daily.
1. The Nets are currently sitting at 19-23 at about the halfway point. I've read from some Nets writers that they are doing better than expected and could end up making some noise if they end up in the playoffs. Would you agree with that, and what is your outlook for the second half of the season?
The second half is almost certainly going to be an uphill climb - the first half of the season was played against teams with roughly a 47% winning percentage. The second half will be against teams with a roughly 53% winning percentage. It will be a challenge to keep up the pace, especially with injuries to Yi Jianlian, Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson, and with the specter of the rookie wall hanging over Brook Lopez. With all of that said, sneaking into the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed would be a great accomplishment for a team that's supposedly rebuilding.
Actually giving one of the three best teams in the East a scare is another story. They're all great defensive teams that will likely take away Harris and/or Carter. And the Nets aren't good enough defensively to win ugly. They're 0-14 when scoring less than 93 points and have already been crushed by the Celtics twice.
2. Devin Harris has transformed into a fun and exciting player to watch. I was a fan of his when he gave the Spurs defense fits when he was a Mav. Do you think Harris should now be considered a top 10 point guard, or is it a little too early?
Nets fans can be a reactionary bunch, but I think that most of us would say that Devin's greatness is tied to his health. Healthy, he's possibly the fastest player in the league with the ball. But going to the line almost 10 times a game seems to have caught up with him, and a recent spate of injuries seem to have slowed him down to a more human level. I don't think we can consider him as a top point guard until he's shown he can play at a high level for a full season.
3. I make a lot of jokes about Yi Jianlian, mostly when it comes to all-star voting, but considering the amount of playing time he gets, he has raised his averages in just about every category. It is often said that hindsight is 20-20, so looking back at the Richard Jefferson for Yi and Simmons trade, do you think the Nets made the right decision.
I think from a purely financial perspective, the trade was a steal for the Nets - they moved an overpaid scorer for cap space in 2010 and (by popularity and marketing potential) one of the biggest stars in the world. On the court, I don't think there's any doubt that the Nets would be a better team this year with Jefferson on the roster instead of Yi. But Yi has shown flashes of being a very good NBA player, most notably in the three games before he went down with a pinky injury. Bottom line, it was the right move to keep the Nets financially solvent and stocked with young talent.
4. The Nets are in trade rumors once again and I'm hearing names tossed around like Mike Miller, Caron Butler and Larry Hughes. If you were GM for a day, which player would you trade for and what would you give up in return?
Well, I don't think any of us want to touch Larry Hughes with a ten-foot pole. Mike Miller and Caron Butler would both obviously be great additions to the Nets, but as always, the question is "at what price?" Vince Carter is the emotional leader of the team, as well as the guy who puts butts in the seats. Brook Lopez looks like our center of the future - he is almost certainly off limits. Similarly, Yi isn't going anywhere. And I'm not sure either of those teams are particularly excited about Ryan Anderson. So any deal looks unlikely at this point.
5. Everytime you have two of the young, exciting and not to mention, fastest point guards matched up against each other, it makes for a great game. What does Devin Harris have to do to stop or limit Tony Parker's penetration into the paint and how do you see that matchup playing out.
It looks like Devin will be out for the foreseeable future with some sort of injury to his side. He came out of Wednesday's game in New Orleans early and was getting more tests done today. Dooling-Parker doesn't quite have the same marquee value, but Keyon Dooling has played well as a starter (15.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, .507 fg%).
Meanwhile, there is another candidate for most interesting matchup of the night - Tim Duncan vs. Brook "Baby Fundamental" Lopez. Nets fans will closely be watching how Brook plays against the legend he's most modeled his game after.
6. Prediction time: Do you see the Spurs extending the Nets four-game losing streak or will they put an end to the streak with a win in San Antonio.
The Nets currently aren't playing with enough focus, or healthy bodies, to compete with the Spurs for 48 minutes. Look for the Nets to play the Spurs tough, but give up one big run (if history is any indication, in the third quarter) that puts the game JUST out of reach.