The New Jersey Nets were the worst team in the NBA last year and they were historically bad. That is a fact. However, things could be headed in the right direction in New Jersey. Not only do they have a new owner with very deep pockets, but they also have a strong head coach in Avery Johnson leading the franchise for the foreseeable future. On top of that, I think the Nets have a very strong young core in place led by Brook Lopez and Devin Harris.
It’s no secret that the Nets are looking to be a big player this offseason whether it be in trades or in free agency. They look like a team that is willing to do everything it can to boost their roster and step one of that process this offseason was last night in the NBA draft. Even though New Jersey missed out on John Wall when they lost the lottery, they were still able to land a talented, young big man with a huge ceiling. Derrick Favors might not be the most polished player that was drafted last night and he may take some time to develop, but he is still just 18 years old and could be a nice piece to add to a very talented and young roster. While the Nets will need some things to go right this offseason to make an impact in the NBA in 2010, they are set up very nicely for the future and could be a team on the rise in the future.
Avery Johnson joined WFAN in New York with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts to talk about why they decided to draft Derrick Favors, what kind of expectations they will have for him, and whether or not he feels confident about their ability to be a strong player this offseason in free agency and with some trades.
On when they decided to draft Favors:
“We made the decision on Monday. We had both Favors and (DeMarcus) Cousins in for a workout, our scouts have watched these guys all year, Rod Thorn watched these guys all year, and Rod has a great eye for talent, but after our workout with both Cousins and Favors on Monday and Rod and I had a chance to interview both of the young men, we were just convinced and confirmed that we needed to take Favors.”
On what their expectations are for Favors:
“I think it depends. It depends on how fast he moves along, but we’re not expecting him to come in and play 38 minutes next year and score 18 points and get 10 rebounds. That’s not what we’re expecting. Kevin Garnett came out of high school basically at the same age of this kid and I know he didn’t go to college but they were around the same age, and the Dwight Howard’s of that world too. It’s going to take him time and I think Kevin averaged about 11 points per game his rookie season. We just want to get him in, get him through his press conference on Tuesday, get him on the court for summer league practice on Wednesday, and we’ll have a chance to coach him and get him up to speed on the NBA game. The game is going to be moving pretty fast for him early on and it’s gonna be much more physical than he ever experienced in college. There’s gonna be an adjustment period. I just don’t know how long.”
On the player that Favors compares to that is currently in the NBA:
“I just think he can be a smaller version from a physical and athletic standpoint to Dwight Howard, but have a better jump shot and more of a touch around the basket. I think he will be able to block shots and rebound and in time be able to move to about 16 feet. He has a left handed jump hook, a right handed jump hook, and he’s gonna be craftier. Just a smaller version of Dwight Howard once he puts on the weight.”
On whether or not they may trade Favors:
“Right now our mind is on Derrick Favors becoming a New Jersey Net and having him for the first day of summer league training camp, veterans training camp and having him opening night to show to our fans at the Prudential Center where we hope to fill the stadium with Mikhail Prokhorov there, our owner, and take it from there. That’s what we’re hopeful for.”
On whether or not he feels they have a great chance to land LeBron James or one of the big name free agents:
“The great thing about free agency, you’re going to have a lot of folks that are going to be standing in line, several teams, and we think the free agents that are available, once we go in and make our pitch and our presentation, once Mikhail Prokhorov shows up and Rod Thorn shows up, the stage that we can provide in New Jersey and two years coming to Brooklyn is unparalleled. We feel we have some assets already on the team, we feel we have gotten more assets in the draft, we feel if the right guy signs with us then we will probably get another free agent. We feel like we can get into a position where a free agent or two can have an opportunity to get a chance to win a championship sooner rather than later.”