What will Avery Johnson’s Nets look like defensively?
Unfortunately, the entirety of what we know about Avery Johnson as a coach comes from his experiences with essentially one roster and one team. There were roster moves -- the Devin Harris-Jason Kidd trade being the most notable -- but he was still working with essentially the same core throughout his tenure with the Mavs. Dirk Nowitzki was the centerpiece, and around him were Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Erick Dampier, and others.
That makes it a bit difficult to predict exactly what Johnson’s strategy will be as the coach of the New Jersey Nets, particularly on the offensive end. Without an offensive stud like Nowitzki around to run the offense through, will Avery prefer a grind-it-out style featuring Brook Lopez? A drive-and-kick attack with Devin Harris? Perhaps a dual-point guard type look with Harris and Terrence Williams?
We won’t really know until training camp, when the Nets roster is a bit more complete. That said, it could be a tad easier to peg down Avery’s defensive philosophy by revisiting his time with the Mavs. Even though defense is just as dependent on personnel, it’s Johnson’s defensive system that likely endeared him to New Jersey. That would likely mean that it will stay more or less intact.
Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching dug into film from the Mavs’ finals run in 2006, and highlighted the different ways Dallas defended the pick-and-roll against Phoenix in the Western Conference finals. There’s no real reason why Avery’s stratagem couldn’t work for the 2010 Nets, which means that the Mavs’ coverage during Johnson’s reign is worth a review.