A look into the Brooklyn Nets offseason moves, and how their season may unfold.
Should we call them the Brooklyn Nyets now that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has defiantly stamped his intentions to build a championship calibre team, regardless of cost?
I’ve always been of the thinking that when you start a contender, you go with either an elite point guard, or an elite center.
The Nets have shifted their focus from the offseason flirting with Dwight Howard, to a team built to compete at least for the Atlantic Division title immediately – without Howard.
Deron Williams is their elite point guard, and at times he showed he can be a dominant player, having posted the NBA league highs during the season for both points (57, in only 38mins vs CHA), and assists (20, vs GSW, tied with Rajon Rondo who also had 20, twice).
They retained Brook Lopez despite him being dangled as their main trade chip, inking him to a $61m deal over four years.
The better of the Lopez twins essentially had a lost season last year due to a broken foot that was finally healed, only for the big fella to go down with a twisted ankle just five games into his comeback after missing the first 32 games.
Lopez is what he is – a weak rebounder for his position, and an efficient scorer who can block shots simply because he is 7’0” tall.
The Nets ownership decided to also re-up Gerald Wallace, overpaying the concussion attracting forward to a $40m, four year deal – a tough contract which may be an albatross in a year or two.
Speaking of albatross contracts, the Nets also traded for perhaps the NBA’s biggest financial strain, Joe Johnson. Nobody doubts his skill, shooting, playmaking or clutch abilities; but this guy is paid more than Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Lebron James to name a few.
Whether he meshes as an off the ball swingman will depend on his chemistry with Williams; the last time JJ had a ball heavy PG running the offence was back in Phoenix with Steve Nash, right before he was sign and traded to Atlanta.
I’m skeptical about the Nets perimeter defence, mainly because neither Johnson or Williams are known for their skills in that area. Making matters worse, Lopez is easily pushed around underneath, and Wallace is no longer the tenacious stopper he once was.
Perimeter defence is where CJ Watson can help off the bench, as can Keith Bogans – two heady players who know their roles and won’t complain about minutes, and perhaps most important is their playoff experience from the Bulls Eastern Conference Finals team in 2011.
The Nets also re-signed Kris Humphries, the much maligned PF best known for his ‘E’ status rather than his actual basketball talents, which are nothing to scoff at.
The guy can play when he gets minutes, and although he’s now likely last piglet to the teat, he’s a classic garbage play guy who will continue to post double doubles with regularity and block the odd shot.
Reggie Evans comes on board as the local UFC bodied rebounding machine, and Jerry Stackhouse’s corpse has also been shocked back for life for leadership and toughness off the bench.
In terms of the 'Battle for New York' that seems to be floating around at the moment, I sincerely believe this Nets team will win more games than their cross town rivals.
The Knicks will still own New York as they always will, but these Nets are the New Kids On The Block, and I’m picking for step one, it won’t be to have lots of fun.
Avery Johnson will have these guys ready to roll, and I see a marked improvement on last year’s shambles, but I don’t think there’s enough mental toughness or playoff experience to top the Celtics - this season.
Projected record: 48-34, 2nd Atlantic Division
Photo Credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images
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