It is hard to really know what one can learn from the preseason, but if there is one thing we are sure of after watching the Nets in the preseason, it is that this team will have one heck of a bench this year. Unlike many teams, some of which are still piecing together a starting lineup, the Nets’ players all know their roles of who is starting and who is coming off the bench and all the bench players are perfectly happy in the role that they have.
The key players on the Nets’ bench all either signed in free agency or re-signed with the team this offseason knowing that they will not be competing for a starting job, but they wanted to come to Brooklyn to compete for a championship.
In the preseason, Jason Kidd knew that he had a lot of veterans on this team, especially in the starting lineup and didn’t feel the need to play them very often to save their minutes for the regular season. Some players, like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, were just given nights off and missed multiple preseason games. Even the starters rarely played over 20 minutes in the preseason. Briefly going across town (for example), Carmelo Anthony played over 34 minutes in the Knick’s preseason finale, a home loss to Charlotte.
Despite the starters not getting much playing time, the Nets still finished the preseason with a 5-2 record, including 2 blowout wins over Miami (although Lebron James did not play in one of the games). By resting his starters, Jason Kidd allowed the bench to develop chemistry and trust among each other. The backup point guard position may have been a question mark coming into the season, but Shaun Livingston proved that if he is healthy, he will be the perfect backup point guard for this team: an unselfish, pass-first player who can get to the rim when needed.
Other players also showed their value. Andray Blatche led the team in minutes in the preseason, but he showed that he will be able to be a scorer for the second unit and is never afraid to shoot (which can be a good thing or a bad thing, but at least he knows his role). Alan Anderson, who may be on the fringe of the rotation for this team, also is a proven scorer and he can definitely knock down an open 3.
And we have still barely gotten a glimpse at possibly the two best bench players for this team, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry, who both missed most of the preseason with injuries.
Especially for an older team like this whose starters will need some rest, having a bench like this will prove to be very valuable once we get later into the regular season and then into the playoffs.
If the Nets can keep their stars healthy and rested once the playoffs come around, watch out for this team.