To be exact, coach Johnson said that he expects his team to be a one of the top-10 defensive teams in the NBA. The Nets certainly have capable defenders on their roster, but becoming a top-10 defensive team in the league may be asking a bit much.
Still, that doesn't mean that Johnson was blowing hot air on Monday.
"On the second day of Training Camp, Johnson liked what he saw during the morning session: Brook Lopez blocking shots, Reggie Evans fouling hard. The coach has locked in on defensive execution, and that will start with forwards Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
'On the defensive end, they bring a lot,' said point guard Deron Williams. 'Gerald can guard many positions – you saw in the scrimmage how we're going to be able to trap with both of those guys. They're both good at hitting the point guards and getting it out of their hands. We're versatile. We're going to be able to switch a lot – I can switch 1 through 4, 1 through 5 when people are playing small. That'll work to our advantage.'"
Apparently, it's a work in progress.
Asking for the Nets to be an elite defensive team may be a bit much. The starting five is going to get the bulk of the minutes, and of them, only Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace are above average defenders. Although the Nets could implement a team philosophy to help with help assignments and rotations, installing a rock solid defensive system is not something that can be accomplished in a single training camp.
The other concern for the Nets is that their primary scorers aren't necessarily great defenders, and their great defenders can't score by themselves. So, Avery Johnson may find himself in situations where he has to choose offense over defense (or vice versa).
The Nets certainly have a chance to be good, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic about their team's defensive potential.