Lionel Hollins' vision for his roster revolves around a few characteristics, things the Nets coach believes are essential to fostering a winning environment. It all starts with a certain mentality.
"When you are trying to put together a team, you are trying to put together a culture," Hollins said Tuesday after a tour of the construction progress of the Nets' training facility in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood. "And you want a culture made of guys that are passionate about playing and have a good feel for playing. They go out and they play with intensity and they are hard-nosed, don't back down. They don't quit. Because ultimately that's what you win with.
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Hollins, who's been around the NBA since the 1970s, understands the direction the league is headed, particularly after the Warriors' run to the title. Golden State's small-team approach really took off when Andre Iguodala was inserted into the lineup in Game 4, replacing 7-footer Andrew Bogut.
Citing how the Nets utilized a smallish lineup at times in his first season in Brooklyn, playing with a center that didn't have the stature of the 7-foot Brook Lopez or the 6-10 Mason Plumlee, Hollins is keen on stockpiling as many interchangeable pieces as possible in constructing the Nets.
"The game is moving to where you want your best players on the court," Hollins said, "and as many playmakers as you can have, as many people that understand what you are trying to accomplish . . . Because the further along you go and the better the competition, the more adjustments you have to make. And if guys can't make adjustments, if guys can only do certain things, those weaknesses are going to get exposed the further you go along in the playoffs."
Precisely this time a year ago, with the draft a mere few days away, Hollins still was looking for work. But that all changed quickly two days after the draft, when Jason Kidd's bid for more personnel control was rebuffed by management, paving the way for Kidd to go to Milwaukee to coach the Bucks and Hollins to land with the Nets.
So Hollins' first true opportunity to give his input on whom the Nets should select in the draft comes Thursday, although he plans on leaving the heavy lifting to general manager Billy King and the Nets' personnel department.
"It's not different than last year," Hollins said. "It's really not. I'm not as involved in the draft. I see some players. I watch tape, and Billy and his staff do a great job of identifying people that we should be considering. I go look at tape and I say, 'Yeah, I like him' or 'Nah.' But ultimately, those people that are out there all year long watching these players know them better."