Brooklyn Nets: The Grizzlies of the East


We’re already seeing a semblance of the Memphis Grizzlies — just with different players. Lionel Hollins has been the Head Coach of the Brooklyn Nets for merely one season, yet many aspects of the Memphis Grizzlies have endured in the play of the Brooklyn Nets. In his second season, Hollins has continued to implement and develop his aggressive defense, and by doing so, he has been focusing on the fundamentals, the aspects that matter the most.

Just this summer, the Nets traded Mason Plumlee to the Portland Trailblazers. Considering the Nets gave up a player with immense potential on the offensive end, what can be inferred is that the Nets are transitioning to a defensive-minded approach to the game.

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In return, the Nets received a solid first-round prospect in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has been recently flourishing on the defensive end.  Though his offensive scoring game isn’t up to standards, many can agree that Hollis-Jefferson not only has a unique passing ability but also a powerful defensive presence.

I watch how Tony Allen plays defense, and how he anticipates very well – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Noted for his versatility, Hollis-Jefferson provides the adequate fortification that the Nets need both at the perimeter and in the post. Hollis-Jefferson’s defense is comparable to Tony Allen’s defense, and given that Hollins previously coached Allen, Hollins will presumably help become Hollis-Jefferson become a better defender than Allen.

Nov 11, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Ty Lawson (3) attempts to control the ball as Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Furthermore, the Nets also have Thomas Robinson in their arsenal, a slept-on defender who has played on five different teams in a three year period. Drafted 5th overall in 2012, Robinson was recognized for both his offensive game as well as his defensive game, having averaged 17.7 PPG and 11.9 RPG at Kansas during his final year. After agreeing to a veteran’s minimum this summer, the Nets found a solid forward in Robinson.

His grit as a rebounder is representative of what Coach Hollins is trying to advocate — aggressive defense. Though he is under a minutes restriction because of his earlier, partially torn meniscus injury, Robinson has already flourished as a threat in the paint. As long as Robinson continues to perform at a high level, Hollins will continue in his path to perfection of the Nets’ defense.

Recently, there have been rumors surrounding Mike Conley; he will possibly be targeted by the Nets during the upcoming off-season, with Hollins leading the effort to sign him.

Nov 7, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) dribbles the ball as Utah Jazz guard Raul Neto (25) defends during the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 89-79. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

If the Nets can continue to improve their defense, they can perhaps entice other free-agents, not just Mike Conley. But in actuality, how can we tell what will happen? What we do know is that Coach Hollins will improve the Nets defense, and hopefully, they can reach the 56-win season that the Grizzlies had back in 2012-2013. As the famous saying goes, “Offense wins games but defense wins championships.” Lionel Hollins knows what he’s doing — it’s up to the Nets to focus on defense, if they believe in a win-now mentality.