Wizards vs Nets preview: Brooklyn is, in fact, in the house

Alex Trautwig

The Washington Wizards host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, January 4, 2013. Get to know them.

The Brooklyn Nets are awesome. No, they're not particularly good or sympathetic (other than Jerry Stackhouse who was, is, and will always be the man), but they're as fun to read about as any team in the NBA. As probable Brooklynite Stefon might put it, the Brooklyn Nets Experience includes multiple ball handlers, awesome uniforms, a great arena, a Bond villain, the most famous rapper on the planet, coaching changes, the top heel in the NBA and role players that are relatively familiar to the average fan. What more could you want?

As fun as Brooklyn has been to follow, it's impossible to root for them when they go up against the Washington Wizards. Washington's coming off a couple of bad losses and could really use another win before John Wall comes back, so hopefully they can use Andray Blatche's presence as motivation and pull off the upset.

Where and When? Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.

Who's Out? Washington will be without Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, John Wall and A.J. Price, while Stackhouse, C.J. Watson and Kris Humphries are all day-to-day for the Nets.

Are They Any Good? Yes and no. Brooklyn has a big ambitions and a bigger payroll, but how well known a player is seems to be more important to Brooklyn than whether or not they're going to be productive over the next few years. We've already seen the wheels come off on Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, both of whom are having arguably the worst statistical season of their careers. While Blatche has been a good value pick up and Brook Lopez is playing above expectations, Deron Williams has struggled mightily after signing an $100 million contract. The end result of all this spending has been a team with a 17-15 record on the strength of an above average offense and a below average defense.

Why Should I Care? Because Brooklyn's fun to watch and Andray Blatche is fun to hate. Almost everyone on the team is a skilled ball handler and shooter, something that will provide a striking contrast with a Washington team that has all of two, three if you're high on Bradley Beal.

What Are They Good At? The Nets are good on the offensive glass (seventh in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage) and have a lot of guys who can create midrange shots off the dribble (number one in the NBA in points per possession on isolations, as per MySynergySports.com). Having a full season of Williams, even with his struggles, has helped, but the team is also highly reliant on the skilled playmaking and shooting of Johnson, Lopez and even Blatche. Meanwhile, Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries, and a completely reborn Blatche and Lopez have all been somewhere between good and great rebounders, something that's generated a lot of second shots for the team's perimeter scorers.

What Are They Bad At? Defending anything other than a pick and roll. One of the less-reported on aspects of Lopez's excellent season is that he's still not a good defender. The team also employs quite a few perimeter players in their 30s, something that's usually bad in an increasingly quick league, and lacks a center who can both protect the rim and step out onto the perimeter. As a result, the team is 21st in the league in defensive efficiency, something made all the more shocking by the presence of alleged defensive maestro Avery Johnson on the bench. Johnson's departure should see a slight uptick in the team's overall motivation as the players adjust to receiving orders from P.J. Carlesimo, but all the yelling in the world probably won't be enough to convince Williams that he doesn't need to save his energy for offense.

How Is Andray Blatche Working Out? He's been a revelation, scoring at will, rebounding and even defending. Try not to think too hard about this, it's just going to make you mad.

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