Nets’ defense will be ‘more aggressive’ under Steve Nash
On their very first day of team practices in camp, the Nets started installing a different defensive look than most of their fans are used to seeing. Heck, it’s even different than some of the Nets are used to seeing.
“Steve [Nash] made a really big emphasis on defense, a couple nuances and changes that I haven’t seen before that are exciting just because they are a little outside the box and are forward-thinking,” Landry Shamet said.
With the top three records belonging to last season’s top three defenses, Nash knows the Nets must be a championship-caliber squad on that end of the court.
“Obviously we have to be an excellent defensive team to compete for a championship,” Nash said. “If you’re not a great defensive team, you’re not connected and you don’t have an incredible competitive spirit collectively, a championship’s not in your cards, that’s for sure.”
To that end, Nash has not only hired defensive-minded assistant Ime Udoka from Philadelphia, but also retained Jacque Vaughn and installed the former interim coach as not only associate head coach, but also the de facto defensive coordinator.
Vaughn will apparently run a defensive scheme more similar to what he deployed in the Orlando bubble than the conservative style Kenny Atkinson had used.
“Defensively we’re changing up things,” Joe Harris said. “It’s a little more comparable to the defense we did — the difference in philosophy we had — in the bubble. It’s not so much of a two-on-two schematic, center field; it’s more aggressive.
“We’re trying to make the offense play unbalanced and out of rhythm and play a little bit more aggressive: Use the length and athleticism we have, and the good rim protectors we have, too, allows the guards to put more pressure on the offensive ball-handlers.”
Granted, the Nets didn’t cover themselves in glory defensively in the bubble. Eighth in Defensive Rating when play halted in March, undermanned Brooklyn finished 18th of 22 in the seeding games. Their 122 Rating in the first-round sweep at the hands of Toronto was the worst of any series in the playoffs.
Still, that Nets squad was decimated. Nash is convinced that a similar system will work with the long-armed, switchable roster he’ll have at his disposal.
“Just a couple of changes and principles, just foundational groundwork of our defense,” Shamet said. “Obviously on a night-to-night basis, our game plan is going to change … but [we worked on] just our principles, our backbone.
“You know across the board the NBA is very [much] a copycat league, and you do a lot of the same things from team to team. And this is the first coaching staff and team I’ve been a part of that it feels different, it has a different feel to it. And they’ve said it too; they know it’s different, too. Not going to get into the specifics, give the whole thing out, but a couple of different nuances here and there that are different for everybody, and kind of new.”