In this edition of Five Questions, we kick it old school with a GBB legend. Former site manager Tom Lorenzo, AKA The Godfather, now runs the show over at NetsDaily, SB Nation’s great Brooklyn Nets blog. He was kind enough to give us some time over the busy holiday weekend to answer some questions about the direction of the Brooklyn Nets and how it connects to the craziness of the current state of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nets have undergone a ton of change since the last time Memphis saw them. What changes have impacted Brooklyn the most?
Well, where to start...Since the last time the Grizzlies saw the Nets they picked up their franchise point guard in D'Angelo Russell. But, as you guys know, injured point guards seems to be all the rage right now and Russell is among the many point guards who are picking up some early season DNPs. In his place, though, is Spencer Dinwiddie who has been incredible for the Nets. Dinwiddie isn't a household name, but he playing his way into most NBA households these days. As a starter he's averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc on 2.9 makes per game. Injuries have certainly impacted the Nets - Jeremy Lin remains out, as well - but they're getting a good look at some of their young players, which bodes well for their process in building a team for the future.
Brooklyn is 1st in the NBA in Pace, 3rd in the NBA in points per game and 4th in threes attempted per game. With D'Angelo Russell out, who should Memphis most worry about offensively?
I would start with Dinwiddie, but the Grizzlies also have to look out for guys like Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll, who have helped to stretch the floor for the Nets with their three-point shooting. This has been helpful in allowing for guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, who do most of their work in penetrating the lane and getting to the basket. In short, I don't know if there's one player to necessarily worry about -- maybe aside from Dinwiddie? -- but I would be more worried about the fact that the Nets get nice contributions from multiple players, as opposed to relying on one player and just standing around and watching "that player" go to work.
The Nets defense seems to be...not very good. Where is Brooklyn most susceptible to issues on that end?
Marc Gasol is going to destroy the Nets, that's a fact. The Nets cannot defend the interior - they have no rim protectors; rookie Jarrett Allen is progressing and has some promise, but he's just 19 years old and he's playing in just under 16 minutes per game. JaMychal, Marc, Tyreke Evans penetrating the paint...the Grizzlies are going to feast on the Nets in the paint. That's where you'll see Memphis take advantage of these "small" Nets.
With the underwhelming 6-12 record and lots of injuries, how do Nets fans feel about their HC Kenny Atkinson at this stage? Is Brooklyn heading in the "right direction"?
It's all house money right now. Nets fans were optimistic going into the season with Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell providing some daylight and a path to possibly picking off the 8th seed in the East. Then Lin went down for the season. Then Russell went down for a significant time. So right now it's about playing for next year...and the year after that...and possibly the year after that. They're looking to Atkinson to develop the kids, build a culture and drive this team into the future. Sure, fans get upset about some of his rotations - every fan wants to win, every game, no matter the situation - but they're being patient with Atkinson and allowing him to do his thing, which is player development.
You may not have heard, but Memphis has lost seven straight games. What must the Grizzlies do to end their misery against Brooklyn and get a win?
Beat up on the Nets in the paint. That's what they need to do. AND, seriously, don't take the Nets for granted. This team played the Warriors and Cavaliers tough in back-to-back games, followed by taking the Blazers down to the wire a few days later. These Nets did beat the Cavaliers earlier this season, and while they are losing games, they aren't necessarily getting blown out from one night to the next. They'll play to the final buzzer, so don't take them for granted. But, if you're looking for a weakness, exploit the paint. That's where the Grizzlies need to spend much of their time on offense.
Thanks again to Tom for taking the time to chat with us. Follow him on Twitter here.