What can the New Jersey Nets do to improve?

Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

The Nets were so close to making the playoffs last year before collapsing late in the season. Point guard Devin Harris arrogantly guaranteed last season that the Nets would be a playoff team – of course Harris jinxed it and the Nets were out of the playoffs.

This year not only are the Nets going to miss the playoffs, but are going to miss it with style. They barely avoided becoming the worst team in the NBA by winning their tenth game on March 29, 2010 against the San Antonio Spurs.

With a lineup featuring All-star point guard Devin Harris, promising guard in Courtney Lee, young center Brook Lopez and talented Chris Douglas-Roberts, one has to wonder why New Jersey is not competing for the last playoff spot in the weak Eastern conference.

Early in the season, the Nets went on a 16-game losing streak and it led to the subsequent firing of coach Lawrence Frank. Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe stepped in as interim head coach and the Nets still produced the same disappointing results.

Finding a big name coach who brings discipline should be the first thing of Nets should do during the summer and not on the prospect of moving to Brooklyn. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and former coach Jeff Van Gandy are possible candidates. But the most recommendable fit would be former Mavs coach Avery Johnson. Harris has already played for Johnson in Dallas and should be comfortable working with him again. Johnson may be known for his controlling methods but discipline is what exactly the Nets need. New Jersey, or possibly Brooklyn next season, don’t have problems scoring – Harris, Lopez and Yi are all capable scorers – but struggle greatly on the defensive end. Johnson may be able to solve that.

The Nets don’t lack any talent, but its evident that they lack leadership. Signing a veteran, one of Derek Fisher’s caliber, will help Harris’ career immensely. New Jersey also doesn’t lack confidence. They played so much better after picking up their tenth win. The pressure was gone and all they did was played. Played like nothing else mattered and it worked. Against the Bulls last night it showed. Terrence Williams notched a triple-double and Brook Lopez scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to deal the Bulls a minor setback in their playoff hopes.

The purchase of the team by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will inject some new blood in the organization. The Nets front office needs a minor overhaul. Possibly, firing Del Harris and letting Vandeweghe go. It’s probably too early to tell if Vandeweghe should be removed from the front office, but this team needs a fresh start.

The Nets are a promising team and could be one of the most surprising next season. Who knows, maybe Nets minority owner Jay-Z and his good friend from Cleveland may have some deal goin’ on that only they know about. If the Nets don’t land number 23, they’ll have to settle for John Wall or Evan Turner. Not exactly a bad deal.

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