Nets Preview: Q&A with Greg Anthony
Prior to the season, YESNetwork.com sat down with Eagle and the other two Nets on YES analysts, Jim Spanarkel and Mike Fratello, to get their thoughts on a number of league-wide topics – and moments after Anthony’s YES debut in Brooklyn on Monday, we caught up with him to do the same.
Below is the result of our quick Q&A with Anthony, who generally agreed with one (or all) of his new colleagues on a four of the five surveyed topics, but also presented a potential breakout player no one else mentioned.
Biggest Game Changers: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City and Kevin Love, Minnesota
“It always starts with a skill set, and when you look at Durant, he possesses things that you just don’t see. He’s like Dirk Nowitzki version 2.0; he’s a near-seven-footer who can literally break down guards off the dribble, he’s a pure shooter from beyond the arc, and he’s got the uncanny ability to finish in traffic a la George Gervin. Couple that with his basketball IQ and the fact that he doesn’t force things and plays within the team concept…when you do that, it makes you unguardable. The hardest thing to guard is body movement, and Durant knows how to play without the basketball. As far as Love goes with rebounding…he attacks the ball, plain and simple.”
Breakout Player: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia
“Jrue Holiday has a chance to take his game to another level. I love his skill set; he’s 6-foot-5 but can play either guard spot, and his decision making has improved a lot. Now, you factor in that for the first time in his professional career he’s playing with a guy who can command a double team (Andrew Bynum), that’s going to create more opportunities for him to shine.”
Impact Rookie: Damien Lillard, Portland
“To me, Lillard is probably the most skilled and ready to play rookie in the draft. Now, Anthony Davis is going to be a phenomenal player; he will impact the game infinitely with his defense and rebounding ability, and I think he will be better offensively than people give him credit for, but his overall success will be dependent on their guard play. Lillard, however, has lights-out range, a terrific handle, and a good mid-range shot. He’s also got good vision, and I think he’s in a perfect situation to utilize his skill set. It always helps to play with great players, but he’s taking a load off guys like LaMarcus Aldridge as well because you have to defend him in the pick-and-roll and his skill set meshes with those guys; Aldridge proved last year that he can be a No. 1 option and score with his back to the basket, but his ability to play pick-and-pop and versatility fits well with what Lillard is able to do. They’re going to develop a great chemistry.”
Best X’s and O’s Coaches: Rivers, Popovich, Thibodeau and Johnson
“Doc Rivers (Boston) is up there, along with Gregg Popovich (San Antonio); they’re two guys who not only are very creative in terms of X’s and O’s, but they’re also very good at being able to keep the ear of their players even though they’ve coached them for a long time. That in itself is a tremendous asset. Beyond them, Avery Johnson (Brooklyn) and Tom Thibodeau (Chicago) are up there; defensively, I think the Bulls are the best team we’ve seen in this new era in terms of systems and discipline."
Nets X-Factor: Brook Lopez
“I think the guy who will determine how far the Nets go is going to be Brook Lopez. C.J. Watson was a tremendous pickup because he provides flexibility, but if the goals are what I think they are for the Nets – which are to not just make the playoffs, but be a relevant contender – the one guy who has the opportunity to go to another level is Lopez. He’s proven his offensive ability, but if he gets some nastiness and really decides that he wants to own the paint and become more of a force in terms of rebounding, then you’re looking at a team that could be extremely dangerous.”
For more insight, you can catch Anthony on select Nets games on YES this season, and be sure to follow him on Twitter @GregAnthony50.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES