For the first time in over a decade, the Brooklyn Nets enter a season with championship aspirations after a noteworthy off-season.
It all started back in June when the team hired recently retired and former Nets great Jason Kidd as head coach. Then on draft night, GM Billy King made the trade of the summer when the Nets acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry from the Celtics in exchange for Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphires, and 3 first round picks.
Adding Pierce and Garnett to a starting five that already included Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez gives the Nets arguably the league’s most complete starting lineup.
Brooklyn is also filled with depth across the board. The Nets have Tyshawn Taylor and Shaun Livingston to back up Deron at the point, Jason Terry to backup Joe Johnson at shooting guard, Andrei Kirilenko to backup Pierce at small forward, the league’s most aggressive player Reggie Evans to backup Garnett at power forward, and Andray Blatche giving Brook Lopez some crucial minutes on the bench at center.
First round pick Mason Plumlee adds even more versatility off the bench and bring tons of athleticism to the front court. It’s unclear as to what the former Duke Blue Devil’s role will be this season.
Key to Season: Chemistry
If the Brooklyn Nets are going to have a successful season, chemistry will be critical. Jason Kidd has been retired from the NBA for all of 5 months, and now has been chosen to take over a team full of veterans looking to win the teams first NBA championship.
Players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams will have to take Kidd seriously, and everyone must be on the same page. If the teams players doesn’t take Kidd seriously, there could be major problems in store as the season takes its course.
After all, Kidd has never been a coach in his career, and will be relying heavily on assistant coach Lawrence Frank for as much guidance as possible.
X-Factor: Andrei Kirilenko
Many accused the Nets of executing under-cover tactics when the team signed free agent Andrei Kirilenko to a one-year $3 million dollar contract after he turned down a $10 million dollar offer from the Timberwolves.
Last season, Kirilenko averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds for Minnesota, and if he can continue to give the Nets similar production, Brooklyn will be able to keep Pierce fresh over the course an 82-game season.
The Nets can’t count on Pierce to play 40 minutes a game, meaning Kirilenko will see significant time on the floor. Kirilenko has the ability to put the Nets over the top.
Biggest Weakness: Fast Break
As much talent as the Nets have, the team is filled with older veterans who aren’t too fleet of foot. Having a fast break is essential for a team, and right now, the Nets don’t seem to have the right personnel to get out and run. Deron Williams and Tyshawn Taylor can run, but other than that, everyone else plays more of a half-court style.
Having a fast break is a must if the Nets want to be able to get some easy offensive points. If Brooklyn has to rely on half court offense all the time, the team will have difficulty putting up points consistently.
The Nets had the talent last season, but have now added major toughness with Pierce and Garnett that the team was severely lacking. Expect the Nets to win a lot of close, grind it out games, and may even win a title.
Record: 58-24 (First in Atlantic Division, 3rd seed in East)
It all starts tonight when the Nets visit Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers.