Jason Kidd’s arrest did not help the New York Knicks’ cause, but it’s still too early to crown the Brooklyn Nets as the kings of New York, as Joe Johnson saw fit when he was introduced in Brooklyn on Friday.
It’s a proclamation that may come to haunt the Nets throughout the season, as Johnson has never been a man of much “heart” and “spunk”—something the Knicks are not lacking.
Labeling the Nets as the “Kings of New York” was wrong on multiple levels and it put an unnecessary target on Brooklyn’s back.
Fans have got to love the courageous nature of Johnson’s statements, but here are five reasons why they were premature and may come to bite Brooklyn square in the butt next season.
The Dwight Howard to Brooklyn Nets deal has crashed, at least for the moment, and Deron Williams was unable to be a part of a super trio in New York.
With Howard, a lot of fans felt as if the Nets would be the Eastern Conference’s most apt enemy in the race to the 2013 NBA Finals. The Nets would easily be propelled from their couches during the NBA Playoffs to being contending participants vying for placement in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Those are just some of the expectations that were placed on the Nets after it was realized that Brooklyn may be Howard’s new home for the 2012-13 NBA season.
Without him, Brooklyn has lost some of the edge they were predicted to have going up against a deepening conference in the league.
The Atlanta Hawks frighteningly overpaid Joe Johnson as their front man when they should have recognized how lessening his potential was with their franchise.
Instead of focusing on players like Al Horford and Josh Smith for Atlanta’s future, the Hawks put tremendous stock in Johnson—someone fans realized would never take the organization deep into the postseason.
Now the Nets have signed Johnson to a four-year, $89 million deal just two years after the Atlanta Hawks penned Johnson to a six-year, $119 million contract—a figure that Johnson is only worth about half of. There are players that you can look at during a game, and even without taking a peek at the box score, you can figure in their influence on the team, their intangibles.
Johnson is a shooter and a stat sheet stuffer. He’s nothing more, nothing less.
The upside for the Brooklyn Nets is that he relieves Deron Williams of some of the offensive responsibility on the court. The downside is that the Nets expect more from Johnson than he was able to deliver in Atlanta.
Signing Brook Lopez was a direct result of the botched Dwight Howard deal, but it’s one of those deals that will not pay off a radical amount of dividends.
Howard may be the best center in the league on both ends of the floor, blowing his offensive traits way out of proportion, and Lopez is not even close.
He’s a great offensive player, but the defense and the rebounding aspects of his game are just not his strongest suits. However, it’s a trend that will grow consistently, as productive big men continue to be an endangered species in the NBA.
A lot of the centers in the league that show just a bit more potential than the rest are overcompensated for it, which is where Lopez found himself when he signed his four-year, $60 million contract with Brooklyn.
Have we forgotten the New York Knicks in all of this, namely Carmelo Anthony? It may have taken him a while to get into his rhythm last season, but with coach Mike Woodson drilling defensive techniques into his head Anthony transformed a bit towards the end of the season.
Whereas ‘Melo used to be just a shooter, there are other avenues to his game. Both his offensive and defensive game improved in the second-half of the shortened season that made the Knicks’ future look much brighter with him.
Did they ultimately give up way too much for him during the trade that brought him over from Denver? Yes! That cannot be explained enough.
Yet, now that Anthony seems a bit more dedicated to broadening his influence on a game for the Knicks, the trade away seems a little smoother to stomach. Anthony has the heart it takes to close out games consistently and to be his franchise’s obvious vocal leader.
There’s another sharpshooter around the way named Joe Johnson, but I hardly think New Yorkers are ready to make a comparison between the two.
Both men have a sweet stroke, but that’s where the buck stops. Anthony finds so many other ways to score the ball and has become better at being a passer, something that still eludes Johnson’s game.
If you had to choose, would you build around, Joe Johnson or Carmelo Anthony?
Case and point.
There is a chance that the Brooklyn Nets may not make the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Here’s an educated prediction for seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs by way of the free agency moves made this summer:
No. 1 Seed: Miami Heat
No. 2 Seed: Boston Celtics
No. 3 Seed: Indiana Pacers
No. 4 Seed: New York Knicks
No. 5 Seed: Philadelphia 76ers
No. 6 Seed: Atlanta Hawks
No. 7 Seed: Chicago Bulls
No. 8 Seed: Brooklyn Nets
A lot of fans may be overly dramatic after seeing the previous list but don’t underestimate what seasons of chemistry and an already assembled identity can mean for a franchise in an 82-game season.
The Chicago Bulls have the biggest question mark over their heads, but with a solid core still in place, the absence of Derrick Rose will be a blow slightly overcome.
The Atlanta Hawks lost Joe Johnson but with the addition of former Philly bench star, Lou Williams, and the health of Al Horford and Josh Smith, Atlanta basketball looks to be on the up and up.
The Brooklyn Nets are a great franchise on paper with all of the ideal role players in place, but it will still take time for the Nets to climb.