Nets Preview: Fratello on Most Improved Teams

10/18/2012 10:58 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

New Net Joe Johnson is one of many upgrades that makes Brooklyn dangerous, says Mike Fratello.(AP)
Mike Fratello has seen a lot of basketball in his career.

A high school standout in New Jersey in the 1960s, Fratello never played in the NBA but spent 16 seasons as a head coach in the league and many more as an assistant at the high school, college, and pro levels. He has also been an analyst for NBC, TNT, and other national outlets off and on for more than two decades – earning the nickname “The Czar” from partner Marv Albert in reference to his masterful use of the telestrator – and has been part of the YES Network team since 2008-09.

So, when we asked Coach Fratello to give us the lowdown on the most improved teams in the NBA this season as part of our season preview series, we weren’t surprised when he threw a curveball.

“Looking at improved teams is one thing, but looking at what’s happened to the league in the off-season…to me, this might be the most overall dramatic change to the landscape of the NBA in a long time,” he said. “When you look at rosters and how many players have changed uniforms – and major players, like Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, etc. – this has been a tremendous shakeup, and it will be interesting to see who can put it all together.”

Another of the elite players to change uniforms is of course Joe Johnson, the former multiple-time All-Star in Atlanta who joins a revamped Brooklyn Nets squad for their first season in New York City, one Fratello believes will be big.

“Certainly, the Nets have done their job in building the team, re-signing Humphries, Lopez, Wallace and Williams and bringing in all the new pieces they’ve added,” Fratello said. “They’ve done such a tremendous overhaul, and the talent level has changed so dramatically from what it was a year ago, so you certainly have to consider them one of the most improved teams.”

Other than that statement, however, Coach Fratello preferred to save the moniker of “most improved” until 30 teams had played 82 games.

“On paper is one thing, but what happens on the court tells the story,” he said, “and as I said, we’ll have to wait and see who puts it all together.”

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