Breaking Down the New-Look Brooklyn Nets Roster at Every Position
No matter which way you turned, the Brooklyn Nets were all you saw this offseason. From their relocation to BK to the acquisition of more than a handful of new faces, the Brooklyn Nets have done everything but changed their alias.
The question is, what exactly have the Nets done? Have they built a star-studded unit with little to offer behind their big names? Or have they added the necessary depth to contend for a title?
While many will label the latter question premature, it's important to evaluate before we estimate. For aid in doing so, the following slides will offer a position-by-position breakdown of the new look Brooklyn Nets.
Once all is stated and known, the championship dreams will be proven as hope or reality.
Starter: Deron Williams (28)
Reserves: Tyshawn Taylor (22) & C.J. Watson (28)
The Brooklyn Nets possess a significant advantage over virtually every opponent they'll face at the point guard position.
In the starting lineup, one will find Deron Williams; one of the Top 5 point guards in the NBA. His combination of scoring and facilitating abilities have ranked at the top of the league for years. Williams' defensive effort and on-ball pressure just so happens to have improved to an elite level during Olympic play.
This places Williams into the elite class of his unspoken rival: Chris Paul.
As for the second unit, Brooklyn puts forth a combination of the sharpshooting C.J. Watson and the defensively dominant rookie Tyshawn Taylor. Together, they will provide a blend of athleticism and postseason experience that can only be described as invaluable.
Don't forget, it was Watson who led the Chicago Bulls down the stretch in 2012 and helped maintain their first overall seeding in the Eastern Conference. That's why he's the point guard position's X-Factor.
X-Factor: C.J. Watson
Starter: Joe Johnson (31)
Reserves: Keith Bogans (32), MarShon Brooks (23) & Jerry Stackhouse (37)
Starting shooting guard Joe Johnson is a six-time All-Star who has ranked in the Top 6 at his position in terms of scoring in each season since 2006. He's also an elite ball handler for his position and is more than capable of facilitating an offense when need be.
What's truly important about Joe Johnson's game, however, is what he's never had. That, of course, is an elite pass-first point guard.
With Deron Williams running the point, we can only expect Johnson's scoring numbers to go back to those that resemble his 2010 form.
Behind Johnson will be a second unit led by second-year 2-guard MarShon Brooks. Last season, Brooks was utilized as a mix between a scoring guard and lead man who handled the ball more often than he should have. This will change in 2013, as Brooks will be able to play off of the ball and become a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Behind Brooks is defensive specialist Keith Bogans and veteran Jerry Stackhouse. While neither will see significant playing time early on, each could carve out a role as the season progresses.
Because of the versatility and potential to score big, MarShon Brooks emerges as the position's X-Factor. We know what to expect from Joe Johnson, but how will Brooks react to being delegated to the bench?
X-Factor: MarShon Brooks
Starter: Gerald Wallace (30)
Small forward is the Brooklyn Nets' weakest position. At this point, their best bet is playing Joe Johnson or Keith Bogans at the position when starter Gerald Wallace is off the floor.
Fortunately, Gerald Wallace rarely comes off of the floor.
Not only is Gerald Wallace the lone true small forward, but he's the best perimeter defender on the team. He'll constantly be tasked with defending anyone from LeBron James to Paul George. He'll also be looked to for postseason production, which he's more than qualified to contribute.
In 2010, Gerald Wallace averaged 17.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game during the postseason. In 2011, Wallace tallied 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game; he also posted 32 points and 12 rebounds in the Portland Trail Blazers' deciding Game 6 loss.
Anyone who says Wallace is limited on offense doesn't know how powerful this guy can be. Gerald Wallace is the only pure 3 on the roster, and he's the X-Factor for his position and for the team overall.
X-Factor: Gerald Wallace
Starter: Kris Humphries (27)
Reserves: Reggie Evans (32), Tornike Shengelia (20) & Mirza Teletovic (26)
Starting power forward Kris Humphries is one of the elite rebounders in the NBA. As he displayed in 2012, he also has a growing offensive attack. Put those pieces together and you've got yourself a premier player on the rise.
All the Brooklyn Nets can hope for is that the players behind him will perform at an adequate enough level when Humphries is off the court.
Fortunately, the team has three quality players to turn to. Reggie Evans is a rebounding machine with postseason experience, while Tornike Shengelia and Mirza Teletovic are coming over from Europe with loads of potential. Shengelia, meanwhile, is coming off of an excellent Summer League campaign and appears ready to contribute off of the bat.
Now back to Reggie Evans.
Tornike Shengelia and Mirza Teletovic are younger and more likely to become greater players in the long-run. Evans, however, was a key player in the Los Angeles Clippers' improbable run to the Western Conference Semi-Finals due to his aggressive rebounding and physical defense.
And this little thing called flopping.
Due to the positive characteristics outlined, the Nets will lean on him heavily come the postseason. Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez are both inexperienced in the postseason, which leaves the frontcourt in need of veteran leadership.
Reggie Evans will be the X-Factor regardless of the minutes he receives.
X-Factor: Reggie Evans
Starter: Brook Lopez (24)
When you leave yourself with just one true center on your roster, you're never in a comfortable position. When your starter is an injury-prone player who has struggled on the boards and defense, discomfort doesn't even begin to describe your feelings.
Such is life for the Brooklyn Nets, as Stanford alum Brook Lopez is the only true center on the roster.
While Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic could both spend time at the 5, neither are truly fit for the position. This has to be of concern as Brook Lopez is far from the most reliable player available. While he remains a threat to put up 20 points a night, his inefficiency on the glass and slow foot speed has to inspire fear in his own team's heart.
If nothing else, it makes you wonder quite a few things.
For one, can this team win a title without a legitimate stopper in the paint? Even if Lopez can provide that presence, can he remain healthy? If the answer to either of those questions is no, this team may not survive as long as we had presumed.
Brook Lopez is the most important player on this roster.
X-Factor: Brook Lopez