67RIEFNS No. 59: Nets finding new identity with Lionel Hollins


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

With the possible exception of the Timberwolves,* eight of the nine teams to change coaches this offseason did so by choice.

*Rick Adelman retired as he was dealing with his wife’s health concerns, but he also posted three losing seasons in three years in Minnesota.

Only the Nets clearly made a move out of necessity – and they might have come out ahead.

Jason Kidd attempted a surprising power pay in Brooklyn, and then he bolted for Milwaukee.

In his place, the Nets hired Lionel Hollins, who led the Grizzlies to the 2013 Western Conference finals before losing his job and sitting out last season.

Hollins is a good coach – better than Kidd, I’d say. Hollins instills toughness in his teams, which have fit a clear style – slow-paced and physical (and effective) defensively.

But how will that work with the Nets, who played best last season when they went small?

Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee allow Brooklyn to go big. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson should defend well on the perimeter in a grind-it-out game.

But it didn’t work last year, when the Nets began the season playing big. Why will it this year? Can Hollins coach the style more effectively than Kidd?

Last year, the Nets found a system that worked, but a coach who didn’t. This year, they’re flipping back to the system that didn’t work, but they have a coach who does.

Is this finally the right combination?