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OTHER ITA SITES:
2006 New Jersey Nets NBA Team Preview
The Nets were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last season. It was the second straight season they were bounced by Miami. A 14-game winning streak late in the season carried them to the Atlantic Division crown.
Lawrence Frank, the youngest NBA head coach, leads a team that ranked 24th in scoring and 6th in points allowed. Frank must get more out of his bench this season if the Nets are to contend for the Eastern Conference title.
Point guard Jason Kidd, last season's team leader in assists (8.4) and rebounds (7.3), will again lead the Nets as they seek to up the tempo. Kidd will serve as mentor for rookie Marcus Williams, which should help Williams develop into a solid NBA player. Kidd is still among the elite point guards in the NBA and should have another solid season.
At shooting guard, Vince Carter returns in what is essentially a contract year - he can opt out of his contract at season's end. Whether or not that will motivate him remains to be seen. If the Nets struggle during the first half of the season, GM Rod Thorn could opt to trade Carter. His 24.2 points per game led the team in 2005.
Richard Jefferson, at small forward, is another key to the Nets season. The Nets lost by 5, 12 and 33 points last season when Jefferson sat out 3 games with a back injury. Jefferson gave way to Carter offensively last season, but remained one of the best defensive players in the league at his position.
Power forward Nenad Krstic showed marked improvement last season. His post moves improved, but he needs to improve his rebounding if he's going to switch to playing center. That means getting stronger. His progress will be a key to the Nets' success in 2006.
The Nets should win the Atlantic Division again this season simply because their division foes haven't done enough to close the gap. New Jersey lacks depth and doesn't have a force at center to compete with Miami or Detroit. The Nets have also proven to be inconsistent, which could lead to an early playoff exit. New Jersey appears to be just a solid center away from competing for the Eastern Conference title.
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