The New Jersey Nets have high hopes this season. With Deron Williams on board for a full year, New Jersey was thinking playoffs and probably a little bigger thanks to Dwight Howard making it known Brooklyn is his favored landing spot. Williams has all but told Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov he will stay with the Nets if they can land Howard.
New Jersey had a lot of work to do to make that dream happen before the team moves to Brooklyn.
The Nets might still be in dream land. Judging by the way the Nets start games, this season could be a long and uncertain one for the franchise.
New Jersey has scored a grand total of 24 points in two first quarters this year. The Nets famously trailed the Wizards 24-7 early on in that opener Monday. And then New Jersey, after coming back to win in Washington, laid an egg in its home opener. The Hawks ran over the Nets with a 106-70 victory at Prudential Center. The Nets scored only 30 points in the first half.
It makes you wonder if this is a real NBA team at times. It is clear the Nets are hurting with promising center Brook Lopez out with an injury. They certainly do not look like a team that can acquire Dwight Howard this year — that is unless the Rockets and Nets both tank and they can promise the Magic two high lottery picks in March.
The Nets right now though seem desperate for points. Especially early in games. The stats for New Jersey at the beginning of games are simply abysmal.
New Jersey has 24 points in 47 first-quarter possessions — a 51.1 offensive rating — and is shooting 10 for 43 from the floor and 3 for 17 from beyond the arc. That is a not-so-pristine 26.7 percent effective field goal percentage. The Nets committed 12 turnovers in the first quarters of games this year just for good measure.
Showing more of the team’s futility, the team has only three free throw attempts in the 24 minutes of first quarter action… all of them came against Washington. The Nets are simply getting beat at tip off and falling far behind.
And really the Nets’ inauspicious start began when Johan Petro committed two turnovers in the first three possessions. Anthony Morrow filled that third possession with another turnover.
The stats are just terrible for New Jersey. And while the Nets came back to defeat the Wizards in the season opener, the Nets found themselves in a hole too big to dig out of against the playoff-experienced Hawks. New Jersey scored better than 20 points in just one quarter in Tuesday’s loss. New Jersey shot 31.0 percent from the floor.
Two games is hardly a large enough sample size, but the Nets have a 86.8 offensive rating in the early part of the season. Their 43.0 percent effective field goal percentage is pretty low on the early NBA efficiency ratings.
Williams is averaging 16.5 points per game and 5.0 assists per game in the first two games and shooting a lowly 33.3 percent from the floor. Those are far below his career averages and far below his expectations for himself.
And the Nets are playing far below their expectations right now. It is still early. But they need a quick shot in the arm — and probably Lopez back — to get into the Playoff hunt. New Jersey has a trip to Orlando scheduled for tomorrow and the schedule will not make it easy for this squad of expiring contracts and young players to make the Playoffs… or go after the big prize in a trade.
The Nets have to get off to better starts to achieve their goals. Certainly better ones than how they’ve started.