Since the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets have not played each other yet, I asked Devin from TheBrooklynGame.com to give me some info about the Cavs' opponent. We exchanged emails and here's what he gave me about the Nets.
Conrad: What's the deal with Deron Williams? Is he just not as good as he used to be? Is it an effort thing? Injury?
Devin: I'm not sure it's any of those things. Deron has had a unique stretch of his career over the past two and a half seasons. After a mostly rigid, consistent system with Jerry Sloan's flex offense in Utah, with mostly the same weapons around him, he's found himself rapidly adjusting to his surroundings almost on a game-by-game basis. He's struggled to figure out his new surroundings in both seasons -- first because of a lack of talent forcing him into forcing the issue, and second with a sudden influx of it. Remember, even LeBron James struggled in his first few games with Miami in 2010 -- through the first eighteen games he was shooting 44%, under 30% from deep and averaging over 4 turnovers a game. It takes time to develop that sync. I'm confident it'll get there.
Conrad: What do you think is the likelihood that Avery Johnson gets canned this year if the team underperforms? Is there a situation that would cause you to call for him to be fired during the season?
Devin: I'm hardly a psychic, but I don't expect Avery's job to be at risk unless the team truly underperforms with all the talent healthy. Avery, owner Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy King all share a vision -- remember, they all joined the team in a span of months in 2010, and have worked together to make this team successful since. I've noticed that some fans are very unhappy with Avery at this point, but the fact is that he's dealing with a brand new team for the third consecutive season that has significant, real weaknesses -- the only difference is that this one also has significant talent. Frankly, I don't expect Avery to get fired because I don't expect the team to underperform -- they should make the playoffs and compete in a playoff series with anyone (except perhaps Miami, who's the Emperor Lord of the Eastern Conference).
Conrad: How have the non-big name additions looked this year -- Mirza Teletovic, CJ Watson, Reggie Evans, Josh Childress, and yes, even Andray Blatche? How key is it to find productive players for cheap with such an expensive core of starters?
Devin: In random order: C.J. Watson has been phenomenal off the bench, Reggie Evans has done everything we know Reggie Evans can do, Josh Childress & Mirza Teletovic have barely played, and Andray Blatche has had putrid offensive & defensive games but has attacked the glass more than I expected and more than his previous seasons would ever indicate. All things considered, the bench has been a revelation -- maybe not that they've looked like the best bench in the league, but these are players who probably would've started 20-plus games on last year's roster. They're bench players who are meant to be bench players. They play specific, idealistic roles off the bench. It's a brand new team in ways that go beyond the uniform colors, and to get this kind of markedly "good" bench, at the insanely cheap price it's come at... It's not quite precedented in the last half-decade of Nets history.
Big thanks to Devin for giving us some information from the Nets perspective and you can check out the questions that I answered for him over on his blog.