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The formerly New Jersey Nets relocating to Brooklyn has introduced a new rivalry into the NBA. The Nets have done very well this off-season, keeping Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, whilst acquiring Joe Johnson from Atlanta.
The Nets are looking better than ever this season and are looking like they will be a contender in the East. But to be the best in your conference, you have to be the best in your city. New York have one of the best frontcourts in the league featuring players such as Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, whilst Brooklyn have possibly the best backcourt in the league, with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. With so many great players, it will be intriguing to see how this rivalry pans out.
The following will be a player verses player comparison in each position and the bench, with a prediction and an overall verdict.
Deron Williams v Raymond Felton
With Brooklyn having one of the best point guards in the competition, the point here has to go the the Nets. Williams averaged 20 points and10 assists per game in 2011-12, whilst being an All-Star and being selected for the USA’s Olympic team! He is a wonderful player, with good defence to match is brilliant offence. On the other hand, Felton is truthfully a poor point guard at the best of times, with a poor shot, fading defence and struggling play making skills.
Joe Johnson v J.R. Smith
Johnson was a brilliant acquisition for the Knicks, as he provides experience, point scoring prowess and play making ability. He averaged 18 points per game at 45% for Atlanta in 2011-12, and with Williams by his side, he may increase that figure into the 20’s. Against the Knicks, Johnson will have a field day as Smith’s lack-luster defensive game. Whilst the inconsistent Smith can score regularly and fluently when on song, Johnson is one of the best perimeter defenders in the competition and won’t be giving any opportunities to Smith. The point here goes to the Nets.
Gerald Wallace v Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo is one of the best players in the league offensively, often scoring from the wings and the corners. He has a beautiful passing game, and sets up plays extremely well. However, Wallace is one of the best and most underrated defenders in the league, but will have to be at his very best to contain Carmelo, a man who has averaged 24.7 points per game throughout his career. The Nets did well in getting Wallace from Portland, and his offensive game should thrive alongside Williams and Johnson. But Carmelo still gets the point.
Kris Humphries v Amar’e Stoudemire
Over their respective careers, Stoudemire has obviously been extremely more influential than Humphries, but currently, it is a lot closer between the two. In the 2011-12 season, Stoudemire averaged just 17.5 points per game, 48% from the field and 7.8 rebounds, his worst numbers in six years! Stoudemire’s recurring back injury has also slowed him down and lessened his explosiveness. Stoudemire has never been a brilliant defender, but recently, this area has gotten worse. So does he beat Kris Humphries? Possibly the best at recording double-doubles in the NBA. Humphries is 27, healthy and coming off career best numbers last year, with 14 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. Humphries has a big upside. Does this mean the point goes to the Nets? No, Stoudemire’s experience and point scoring ability still better Humphries rebounds. But only half a point goes to the Knicks
Brook Lopez v Tyson Chandler
Chandler is the starting centre for Team USA in London this year. He is also one of the best defenders in the world. Lopez offensive game is very different to a normal NBA centre, as he likes to shoot from beyond 15 feet from the basket. However, the problem with this is, Lopez shot isn’t that great and he shoots only 40 percent from this range, this figure will not be helped by Chandler’s ability to defend beyond the basket. Chandler will also cover Lopez around the rim, so scoring options for the Nets Centre look bleak. Chandler is also a better rebounder, averaging 9.9 rebounds per game to Lopez’s 4.7. Chandler will be used more on offense against the Nets than usual, because Lopez is not a great defender. Chandler will out-muscle Lopez under the basket will score highly in this New York rivalry.
This match-up is quite even, with Marshon Brooks and Reggie Evans up against Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd. In Kidd, the Knicks have an experienced bench player that will provide good leadership and will keep the offence running. Camby is a good rebounder and shot blocker who can play well in limited minutes. The Nets have a solid, high-scoring 6th man in Marshon Brooks who had a good rookie year last season, whilst Reggie Evans can provide solid minutes off the bench. Neither team has much outside of the 6 and 7 , but the Knicks still have much more depth of the bench. Point Knicks
Unselfish players provide better team players than selfish ones. Team chemistry comes down to excellent ball-movement, which you cannot achieve with a ball-hog. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire stop ball movement all too often, by try to go themselves or taking unnecessary risks. J.R. Smith is also selfish. Felton is mildly overweight and most of the offensive play will come from Carmelo and Stoudemire, not Felton. Anthony constantly being caught in the middle of basketball and media commitments do not help this teams chemistry either. Over in Brooklyn, the Nets look much better, with Williams one of the best pure-point guards in the NBA and Johnson is a good passer for a 2. Expect the two to gel quickly in their first season as a backcourt combination. The Nets players are all good team players, whereas this is an area for improvement for the Knicks. Point Nets
Overall, the Knicks are better individually, but the Nets look as if they will fit together better as a whole. The frontcourt of the Knicks is only slightly better than the Nets, whilst the Nets backcourt is far better than their New York rivals. This year, the Nets will finish above the Knicks, because of team chemistry, the Knicks defensive lapses and an injury plagued New York team (Camby, Kidd, Stoudemire). The Nets guards will be able to set up scoring opportunities better than the Knicks and their forwards will benefit greatly. The combination of Williams and Johnson will be too good for the Knicks, unless Carmelo can score 30+ regularly. Over the regular season, I predict it will be 2 all, with both teams winning all matches at home. I predict the Nets and Knicks will finish fourth and fifth respectively in the East, but the Nets will win in the playoffs 4-2, because of the backcourt combo. It will be interesting to see how this new rivalry pans out.
Yours in basketball,