Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/11/13
The Nets are having growing pains. They are trying to build chemistry with a revamped roster while also trying to find the right lineups that make their players most effective. In spite of this, the Nets 5 core players are still expected to produce. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez have done their part through 6 games, and Paul Pierce has done so as well to a certain extent. Deron Williams is still working his way back from an ankle injury that made him miss all but one preseason game. Then there is Kevin Garnett, who has been underwhelming to say the least. Garnett was supposed to anchor a Nets defense that was a little more than average last season, allowing an average of 95 points per game, but allowing their opponents to shoot 46% from the floor, near the bottom of the league. Through 6 games, KG has not been the defensive enforcer Billy King brought him to be. The Nets' opponents are scoring more 100 points per game even though they are shooting a bit less than last year's number, 44%. Do all the Nets defensive woes fall on KG? No. But, his defense is renowned by many, and it has been suspect this far. Last night, for example, KG had some trouble defending David West. Sure, West is a fine power forward that can play both in the paint and from the foul line extended, but KG should be able to contain him, or at least slow him. One play in the third quarter saw Roy Hibbert screen Garnett which opened up West for an elbow jumper. Garnett, a fundamentally sound defender, tried to fight through the 7'2" Hibbert. That led to him bumping Brook Lopez as well. By the time he closed out on West, the ball was in the air. Two minutes later, Paul George drove along the baseline. Lopez was the closest help defender, so he slid down to stop George's pursuit to the hoop. Garnett came to supply even more renforcement. This was unnecessary because George already picked up his dribble and it led to an open West foul line jumper. These are just two small examples of Garnett's defensive issues this season. He has not closed out fully and has been a mediocre rebounder. Garnett is averaging 6 rebounds a game, but when one watches the film, one see's that when there has been contact with his opponent, he hasn't won many battles. SportVU data shows only 1.8 of Garnett's rebounds count has been contested (where an opponent is within 3.5 feet of the rebound).
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