New arena. New city. New name. New slutty cheerleaders.
There is a lot of buzz around the Nets as the NBA season enters its exhibition and basketball comes to Brooklyn. Before we pencil them in as a playoff team let’s take a closer look at the team make-up (remember, the team – yes, that matters) and what is the reality vs. the fantasy from breathing in that new arena smell.
The starting backcourt is VERY good. Deron Williams is elite, all NBA point guard that can score, create for others and play defense. Newly acquired Joe Johnson is a shooting guard scoring machine that doesn’t play much defense. Can Williams motivate Johnson’s D to at least mediocre? If so, this will pay huge dividends throughout the season and easily translate to one or more wins for the Nets.
I would be very nervous if my season rested on the shoulders of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. First of all neither has demonstrated the ability to stay on the court for 82 games, or even close to that. SHOULD they stay healthy both will need to find the balance of aggressiveness and scoring consistency. Essentially, they both have the tools, but need to make good decisions (NOTE: Humphries clearly has not demonstrated the ability to make good decisions OFF the court – let’s hope this doesn’t translate to the hardwood). Gerald Wallace (again, if healthy) should help with the consistency, if not, then the Nets will have to rely on their bench.
Both the players and management have liked what they have seen so far this year from Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson, but I’m not sure how much deeper their bench goes. First of all, Blatche and Watson are good bench scorers, but may (and in my opinion will) struggle if asked to fill in for the starters and beyond that you have several rookies, consummate bench guy Keith Bogans, and the VERY (some would say OVER) seasoned veteran Jerry Stackhouse. It probably makes sense to dump Stack off on their neighbors in Manhattan, you know because they like really old guys.
EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER: 48 Wins, Eastern Conference Finals (lose to Miami)
EVERYTHING FALLS APART: 38 Wins (miss playoffs – Jay Z refuses to play the Barclay Center ever again)
REALITY: 44 Wins (6 seed, eliminated in game 7 at Boston during round 1)
Simply put, if Williams remains healthy he can carry this team for long stretches. There are a lot of question marks and potential trades to be made in order to convert the frontcourt into a contender. Regardless of what the Nets brass is saying, this is still a middle of the pack team (let’s hope that breathing in the new arena smell isn’t toxic).
By: David. S. Grant
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