Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — No rational observer would dare deny that point guard Deron Williams is the leader of this revamped Brooklyn Nets team, and they’re expecting to contend in the Eastern Conference.
The roster was overhauled and plenty of veteran pieces are in place, but Williams is the leader. With that, he is excited about the possibilities that this new roster is bringing to Brooklyn.
Not only is he excited about this season, he’s happy to be done with last season. Last season, according to Williams, was the first season in his life—not just his career—in which his team lost and his teammates didn’t seem to take it seriously.
The Nets—playing their final lame duck season in Newark—finished just 22-44 and last in the Atlantic division.
“You’re getting your ass kicked and you’re in the locker room laughing at the game afterwards. I don’t think that stuff’s funny,” Williams said as training camp opened on Tuesday at the PNY Center.
“That’s what we had to deal with last year, but I don’t think we’re gonna deal with that this year because the guys we have now, that’s not what they’re about.”
Those are strong early words from Williams on a roster that now includes proven veterans such as Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Bogans and the re-signed Gerald Wallace.
This roster, as constructed, is not built for waiting around and developing, it’s built to make a splash right away, and Williams—its captain—will lead the way.
“It’s night and day last year to this year with what we have in training camp,” Williams said. “We’re talking about trying to not lose two games in a row. We were fighting just to win two games in a row last year.”
On Monday, Williams noted that it was good to not have contract situations and impending free agency as a distraction this season. He is also happy to not have to be his team’s primary offensive weapon. When the Nets open their season in 30 days against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, those are two major concerns that Williams won’t have on his mind.
“He’s confident, he knows the systems, he’s back,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. “He knows his role, it’s a big responsibility, but he’s embraced it and I love it.”
Rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor was limited in Tuesday’s first session with what the team was calling a strained right quad.
Taylor, a Hoboken native who starred at the University of Kansas from 2008-12 after a successful career at St. Anthony High School, was off to the side shooting for much of the session. In his post-practice media session, coach Johnson gave no indication that Taylor’s injury was serious.
Taylor was selected with the 41st pick of the 2012 NBA Draft
Coach Johnson also made a few announcements regarding his frontcourt rotation:
Andray Blatche, who was waived by the Washington Wizards when the team elected to amnesty him this past summer, is currently slotted as the primary backup to Brook Lopez. The enigmatic 6-foot-11 Blatche, who lost about 20 pounds during the offseason, is currently weighing in at about 265 pounds. He is in camp on a non-guaranteed contract, but is a lock to make the roster.
At power forward, coach Johnson said that 27-year-old rookie Mirza Teletovic will be the primary reserve behind incumbent power forward Kris Humphries. Teletovic—a former Euroleague star—stands at 6-foot-9. He signed with the Nets this past offseason for the “taxpayer” mid-level exception of three years and approximately $9.7 million.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA.