Part-owner of the New Jersey Nets, Jay-Z, probably wishes he had Dwyane Wade and/or LeBron James on his team right now. Instead, he has the likes of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez.
This isn’t for a lack of trying to land at least one, and possibly two of the greatest catches in free agency. He and billionaire majority-owner, Mikhail Prokhorov tried their damndest to lure all of the “Three Kings.”
New Jersey’s dismal record last year probably played a large part in the three turning down the offer from the Nets. That, and the fact they would rather all play together, and the only place that was gonna happen was Miami.
So, Jay-Z and Prokhorov are left with Devin and Brook rather than Dwyane and LeBron.
Yet, Harris looks like an All-Star through two games of the season, averaging 21.5 PPG on 15-of-25 from the floor, while grabbing 4.5 RPG and dishing out 9.5 APG, and while those numbers will likely decrease a bit over the season, they aren’t outrageously inflated, either.
He averaged 21.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 6.9 APG during the 2008-09 season playing in 69 contests, and then followed it up last year by averaging 16.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 6.6 APG in 64 games.
The Nets’ low-post presence, Lopez, is also looking like a bonafide star, averaging 27.0 PPG on 19-of-36 shooting to go along with 7.5 RPG, and 2.0 BLK.
He too may see his scoring decrease a bit, but his stats from 82 games played last year indicate he’ll likely come close to the numbers he’s posting now, as he averaged 18.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.7 BLK while shooting 49.9 percent from the floor and 81.7 percent from the free-throw line.
However, the two games they garnered those stats in so far were against the Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings. I think they’re going to find it a little bit tougher to score points against Miami when the Heat travel to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ to take on the Nets.
In fact, I think they’re going to find it more than just a little tough, they’re going to find it downright hard as hell.
While the Nets may be playing well right now, having found a way to overcome late deficits in both of their first two games of the year, they were an atrocious team last year, and I’m confident the addition of Travis Outlaw at the small forward position and Joe Smith at the power forward position isn’t going to improve them enough to be a playoff team, let alone an Eastern Conference or NBA title contender.
Jay-Z may not have girl problems (which I think anyone who’s seen Beyoncé would attest to), but I think one of the 99 Problems he sings about is likely the problem his team is going to have in beating a Miami Heat squad comprised of the “Three Kings.”
Despite the fact his partner, and majority owner, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, seems willing to spend money like it grows on trees, New Jersey still just doesn’t seem to have developed a Blueprint for success.
Will they win more games than last year? I think that’s undeniable. Hell, they’ve already won two games without a single loss. It took them 21 contests to achieve that feat last year en route to their NBA worst 12-70 record.
Yes, they’ll win more than 12 games this year, but one of them won’t be against the Miami Heat on Sunday, and probably won’t be any other game they take on the South Beach Superteam. New Jersey got swept by Dwyane Wade and the Heat last year without LeBron and Bosh. With them, the Nets don’t stand a chance against Miami.
Instead, they’re going to run into the same buzzsaw the Orlando Magic ran into on Friday night, and they’re going to wonder if they just stepped through the movie screen into a horror movie; which will be fitting considering Sunday is Halloween.
I’m not trying to disparage the Nets. I believe Avery Johnson is doing a wonderful job with what he’s inherited, and I think Prokhorov and Jay-Z are bound to eventually find a winning recipe for his team.
That might have to wait till they’re firmly ensconced in their new digs in Brooklyn before it’ll happen, but as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Of course, for the Miami Heat, at least, it seems as if it was built in three.
Look for Dwyane Wade, who burned the Nets last November 14 with a game-winning three-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in an 81-80 Heat victory that kept New Jersey winless, and torched them for a game-high 27 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 12 assists in a March 22, 2010 victory, to continue his scorching offensive output against the team from the Garden State.
You can also look for LeBron James and Chris Bosh to enjoy abusing Outlaw and Smith. I’m fully expecting both of their numbers to skyrocket in this game against the Nets, as the Heat are almost certain to top the century mark by a mile in scoring against the hardly-defensive-minded New Jersey squad.
I’ll be bold and make some predictions for this game. Wade scores 32 points, grabs 6 rebounds, and dishes out a team-high 8 assists, while LeBron follows close behind with 26 points, 12 boards, and 6 assists, and Bosh finally gets in a groove and pours in 20 points to go with 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Miami 115 New Jersey 87