Brooklyn Nets: An NBA Franchise Grows This Offseason
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The Nets have not captured their most coveted target of the 2012 offseason and they may not get their man. Whether or not Dwight Howard is representing Kings County this upcoming season, the Nets have already built a solid foundation for year one in Brooklyn.
The brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn awaits this fresh, young group of players set to don the black and white in New York City this season. The Nets are a young team with some new faces acquired in trades and the draft, as well as a rock at the point in Deron Williams.
Younger, yet proven veterans like Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez should give the Nets a solid high/low post presence and provide a formidable scoring punch on the blocks. The Nets’ young, proven head coach Avery Johnson has gained the respect of his players and owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, all the while positioning the Nets to be a threat in a crowded Atlantic division.
Johnson believes the Nets' time may be now:
“I think the potential and the possibility of us being a special team is there.”
C.J. Watson was just signed to be the backup point guard to Williams. Watson showed some promise last year spelling Derrick Rose in Chicago, though he's not a physical point guard and his career assist totals leave much to be desired.
The Nets made a very strong run at former Utah Jazz swingman, Andrei Kirilenko, who after one year of playing in Russia, was finalizing a deal late last night with Minnesota. While he appeared to have lost a step in Utah, the Nets saw value in bringing him on board for his veteran presence, defense and athleticism.
Will the Brooklyn Nets, as presently constituted, be a playoff team in 2012-2013?
Now Brooklyn needs to turn elsewhere to find a defensive specialist on the market. An intriguing option could be veteran Josh Howard, most recently of the Utah Jazz, who would add length and be a nice defender on the perimeter.
Unlike Miami, the Nets do not have a "Big Three." They do now have several proven scorers that have multiple All-Star game appearances to their names. The Nets are marketing several of their top players as the ‘Core Four.’
Lopez, Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace bring toughness, physical play, ball-handling and outside shooting to this Nets squad. Williams is one of the best point guards in the league and he’s now surrounded by solid scorers on the wing and down low.
Lopez is entering his fourth full-season in the league and is primed to become one of the elite offensive centers in the league. Lopez is a career 17.4 points per game scorer on just over 50 percent shooting but the knock on this very talented, brainy big man is his defense.
ESPN’s John Hollinger explains:
Lopez blocked a decent number of shots, but he was 65th of 67 centers in defensive rebound rate, which is just completely inexcusable… He's a bad pick-and-roll defender, often leaving his guard hanging out to dry, and against a pick-and-pop center, he can't stay in the same zip code.
Johnson and Wallace are two former SEC greats at Arkansas and Alabama, respectively, that are both entering role-player phases in their career. But don’t think for a second that Johnson is unafraid to take the winning shot.
Johnson was the man in Atlanta the past seven seasons and put up five-straight seasons averaging over 20 points per game. Wallace can flat out score when need be but he will be relied upon more for his first-rate perimeter defense, his ability to get to the rim and excellent rebounding from the small forward position.
One could make the argument that the team in the borough just to the west has a better group of three players, than the Nets. Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler stack up very well against most of the top trios in the NBA.
The Nets' top four players are a fearsome foursome in their own right and should help them fight vigorously for a spot in the 2013 playoffs.
Marshon Brooks is a heady, smooth shooting guard that made a very strong impression in his rookie season. So much so, the Nets were reluctant to part with him in the deal that brought Joe Johnson to town.
A pure scorer with a knack for getting inside the paint, Brooks shot 43 percent his rookie season and averaged 12.6 points per game in just under 30 minutes per game off the bench. The Nets are hoping to hold onto Brooks, unless he absolutely has to be spared in a potential deal for Dwight Howard.
Johnson may be a great role model for Brooks and coach Avery Johnson will be sure to ask the veteran Johnson to take Brooks under his wing and mentor him. Likewise, Williams should look at rookie Tyshawn Taylor as his pupil, to whom he can teach the finer points of NBA point guard play.
The reality is, Dwight Howard has not yet made his way over the Brooklyn Bridge and he may no longer be going anywhere. The Nets would obviously benefit from having the best center in the NBA but any previous deal would have come at an enormous cost in talent and future draft picks.
The Nets have some very solid young players in Humphries, Brooks and Tornike Shengelia that they should allow to develop.
Brooklyn is desperate for a backup center, especially now after they missed out on Nazr Mohammed. They will need someone to spell Lopez, preferably a solid veteran defender that can keep the opposition off the glass. The Nets had the fourth-worst rebounding differential in the NBA last season.
Hamed Haddadi, who played limited minutes in Memphis this past season, is out there for the taking but he’s still very unproven despite having great size. The barrel is pretty empty, though Portland Trail Blazer Joel Przybilla is out there for the taking.
The options are not ideal but the Nets may need to grab a big man with experience before another emerging team does. They will really need a solid interior defense to combat the likes of Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, and Spencer Hawes within their own division.
The excitement is building. The Brooklyn Nets have not yet fully taken shape though there’s a tremendous amount of optimism surrounding this young nucleus of stars that intend on lighting up the scoreboard.
The season will be here in a New York minute. Brooklyn will be ready.
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