On July 10, the Brooklyn Nets and Deron Williams agreed to a buyout that’d relieve the former All-Star of his duties as starting point guard. The Nets were expected to make some sort of maneuver to get Williams out of Brooklyn, but that always involved trades. Now, that he’s officially gone, the Nets can breathe a sigh of relief… until the realization that Jarret Jack is now the starting point guard.
Jarrett Jack has been a solid backup ever since he came into the league. His production has dipped down a bit since leaving Golden State, but otherwise, teams would definitely be calling Billy King if he was made available for trade. The problem is that Jarrett Jack doesn’t fit this current Nets team as a starter.
His primary role involves supplying offensive production while the starters get their rest. As a starter himself, this mentality wont work next season. He needs to be a distributor, which he simply is not. Playing alongside Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and Thaddeus Young, Jack should be creating open shots for them, and not himself. Last season, the +/- for Jarret Jack combined with those three on the floor was a total of -5.9 (via NBA,com). Generally speaking, when those four played together, they were outscored by 6 points. That’s pretty terrible.
Sure, Jack isn’t a particularly good replacement, but who else is there to look to? Steve Blake will most likely get waived. Shane Larkin has yet to prove himself, and Ryan Boatright may not make it through training camp. There’s no doubt, talent wise, the Nets are weakest at point guard.
The Nets, even with Williams, were going to have an extremely tough time making the playoffs. Most teams in the Eastern Conference have gotten better while Brooklyn has regressed. A lottery destination is likely, with nothing to show for it. So what’s in store for the 2015-16 season and beyond?
The Nets will struggle, plain and simple. Without a starting point guard, the offense will be a major work in progress. But on the bright side, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young are back, and will prove to be a formidable frontcourt for opponents to worry about. If Brooklyn isn’t in playoff contention, expect Joe Johnson and his expiring deal to be moved at the deadline, for perhaps an interesting piece or two.
But unlike in years past, there’s good news on the horizon. Regardless of how next season plays out, Brooklyn will be players in the upcoming free agency. They’ll have an excess of $30 million in cap space, and no shortage of talent to work with. Mike Conley will be a free agent, and expect the Nets to make a push. He thrived under Lionel Hollins in Memphis, and may look for an easier playoff push in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn’s talent took a hit with William’s parting, and barring any other moves, the Nets chances next season don’t look good. Boston will get their lottery pick, and that’ll be that. But looking beyond next season, the Nets have a very bright future. Perhaps two or three years down the line,the Nets will be talking about Lopez’s stance as the best center in the league, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stifling opposing stars, Bojan Bogdanovic becoming the next Peja Stojakovic, and a top Eastern Conference team lead by hard nosed and tough minded defensive coach Lionel Hollins.