The Nets Are Going Small? It’s About Time


The Brooklyn Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-105 on Friday and they experimented with a different starting lineup that had Joe Johnson playing the power forward position. The lineup had Deron Williams at point guard, Alan Anderson at shooting guard, Bojan Bogdanovic at small forward, Johnson at power forward and Mason Plumlee at center. The Nets experimented with a similar lineup last season when Brook Lopez went down for the season and that lineup was a success with 6’7 Paul Pierce playing at power forward. Johnson is 6’7 also which is nowhere near the ideal size of a typical power forward but if it worked last season I guess it’s worth a shot now.

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Lionel Hollins was asked after the game if we should get used to seeing the Nets go small and he doesn’t expect things to change anytime soon. “We’re a small team now,” Hollins said. “When you look at [Garnett] and Mason [Plumlee] starting, or [Garnett] and Brook [Lopez] starting or Mason and Brook…we have no more bigs…Joe and Thaddeus are about the same height.” Newly acquired Net Thaddeus Young is only 6’8 but he is known as a good defensive player and he has found a way to be a productive player despite his smaller stature.

Lionel Hollins said that the loss of Mirza Teletovic and Kevin Garnett are the reason that the Nets have opted to go small and small ball brought out the best in the team last season. Thaddeus Young is expected to be the team’s starting power forward for the rest of the season and although power forward is his normal position, he is undersized, which makes the Nets a small team. “I think it’ll work good, when we went small last year, we had some success, and it’s kind of similar.” Deron Williams said.

Williams got the start on Friday in place of Jarrett Jack who did not play due to a sore hamstring. Jack has been the team’s starter lately and he has thrived in that role, but Williams played well in Jack’s place. Williams had 12 points and 15 assists, it’s worth noting that Williams had a ton of success when the Nets went small last season so going back to small ball can potentially bring the best out of Williams.

Brook Lopez was out of action when the Nets went small last season, but in his first taste of action in that style of play Lopez played well. Lopez came off of the bench and had 22 points and 14 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Lopez appeared to be out of Brooklyn and on his way to Oklahoma City on Thursday, but in the last ten minutes before the trade deadline, Oklahoma City backed out of what appeared to be a done deal with the Nets and sent Reggie Jackson to the Detroit Pistons. It’s not the first time that Lopez had appeared to be on his way out, but nonetheless, Lopez remained a Net yet again and he remains the team’s longest tenured player.

According to Lionel Hollins, a smaller lineup will now be used on a daily basis and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It worked in the past so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work now. The personnel is different than last year, but the core is still the same and all of the Nets core players performed at a high level on Friday. Joe Johnson had 23 points with five three pointers, Lopez had 22 points with 14 rebounds and Williams had 12 points with 15 assists. We’ll see if this change in strategy will benefit the Nets and help them make the playoffs.

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