You may have gotten a glimpse of the future last night. Key words being may have.
Derrick Favors was given his first NBA start in the Nets' win over the Bulls. It wasn’t just a one-time thing. But it may not be permanent because the Nets are still involved in trade talks for Carmelo Anthony and Favors remains a central piece of the discussions.
A source recently said there has been “movement” on the Anthony talks. The Nets believe they’re in good shape to get him, but so do several other teams.
Still, the Nets have the most to offer by themselves. They're trying to deal straight up with Denver, but could involve other teams because of their contract situation, flexibility and assets. Either way, they may need to do more, to acquire better players to make their roster more attractive to Anthony so he can't turn down a contract extension.
In the meantime, the Nets want to take a look at Favors and Brook Lopez together. Kris Humphries didn’t deserve to lose his starting job as well as he’s played -– and he was terrific last night -- but the Nets were going to go this route eventually.
“We can move forward and look at our starting four or five man of the future,” coach Avery Johnson said.
“We’ve been watching them work together in practice now for sometime. They do some things really well together. Again, you’re talking about someone who’s 22 and 19. They got to get stronger both mentally and physically. It’s going to take some time.”
It’s the smart move. The playoffs are a very long shot -– believe it or not, at 10-25 the Nets are only four games out, which is an indictment on the Eastern Conference as a whole.
In case Favors is around, it’s better to start developing him and get him used to playing against the real big boys, the starting power forwards. It would help the Nets on many levels if Favors plays well.
The Nuggets already like Favors, but he could be an easier sell to the organization/fan base if he does something now that he may be playing more.
He’s got to do better than four fouls and five rebounds in nine minutes like he did last night.
The Nets have an opportunity to do something here they haven’t done since Vince Carter was creating room and shots for Devin Harris and Lopez.
The last three-game winning streak the Nets enjoyed was in January/February of 2008, during which they beat the Bucks in New Jersey and Wizards in Washington.
Here the Nets are: their next two games are at Washington and home against the Bucks. Could history repeat itself -– it depends on the Nets.
If they play the way they did in last night’s victory over the Bulls –- all-out, hard, with passion and confidence even after things started to go badly -- the Nets could win the next two.
That would be a nice sendoff for a four-game West trip that features stops at the Suns, Lakers, Blazers and Warriors.
In other words, the Nets need these next two games.
The Nets just as easily could come out of this on a two-game losing streak.
The Wizards are a bad team –- one of the few who have a worse record than the Nets. But the last time we wrote those words, the Minnesota Timberwolves embarrassed the Nets on New Year’s Day.
As bad as the Wizards are, they have John Wall and are 8-8 at home, so they play decently in D.C. The Nets beat them this season after giving up a 23-point lead.
The tougher game, of course, should be against Milwaukee.
Scott Skiles is a great coach and Andrew Bogut usually plays well -– we’re being nice/diplomatic here –- against Lopez. Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts –- both of whom are playing now -– should have extra juice playing against the Nets.
But both teams are coming off a back-to-back. The Bucks will be flying in late after hosting Miami, so they’ll either be tired if they are competitive or rested if the Heat blow them out.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)