The Brooklyn Nets roster is deep. They've managed to slap together a very strong bench, a particularly offensive one, an improved defensive one over last year and one with decades of experience.
And that's not mentioning the best starting five in Nets uniforms since at least the Jason Kidd days a decade ago, or dare I say it...ever?
The Brooklyn Nets are going to be good; they will have a winning record; they will make the playoffs.
Only a crazy person would make such bold predictions but a year ago. Things have changed.
A satisfied Deron Williams, a confident Joe Johnson, a settled Gerald Wallace, a single Kris Humphries and a healthy Brook Lopez have made the Nets a team to contend with.
But it doesn't stop there. For all the billions Mr. Prokhorov has to throw around (and he did throw around a few million), this is one of the more wisely and frugally put together benches in the league.
Even the relatively slight overpayments to retain starters Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace,and to corner newcomer Joe Johnson, were not egregious and wholly necessary. The Nets were done without them, and likely for a another long time.
Here's a run down of the 2012-13 Brooklyn Nets roster, via the depth chart.
Deron Williams already was one of the best point guards in the league before becoming one of those very few players that sway the moves of an entire organization, a two-time gold medalist and a $100 million dollar man.
But unlike other players who might be slowed down by the realization of such achievements, Williams wears the need for further approval on his jersey. He’s got something to prove.
Williams wants more, and he will settle for nothing less of himself and his teammates.
All of this will rub off on the team, taking it undoubtedly to the postseason for the first time in six years. There’s clamor about No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, but I’m not sold on that yet.
The Nets went all in on Williams, and it was the best move they could make, signing the selfless leader who really does seem to deeply want to win, and legitimize both himself and the Brooklyn franchise.
Williams is the second best scoring point guard in the league behind Russell Westbrook. He won’t need to score as much this season with Joe Johnson at the two, but there will be plenty of 20-point games in there. Williams will have the ball in the waning seconds of the game and it will be his decision to pass or play, and you can have confidence he’ll make the right call.
Williams manages the floor so well he’s tallied about 9.5 assists a game as a Net—with Kris Humphries the second scoring option. Expect that number to hit double digits this season.
In general, though, Williams can do it all, scoring from inside and mid-range, handling the rock and finding an open man. Even his defense is a little underrated.
This was a great deal for Brooklyn, signing Watson for less than he could have made elsewhere thanks to a personal call from Williams himself.
Watson is strong off the bench and perfect to spell Williams and hold the fort if Williams gets into foul trouble. He is capable of scoring in double-figures often and even has a good percentage from downtown.
He’s also got heart. From the NY Post, Watson is “used to a big market, he’s used to playing for a contender, he’s used to pressure, and he really looks forward to contributing.”
The Nets doled out a little cash to the Portland Trail Blazers for Tyshawn Taylor, the 41st pick in the 2012 draft out of Kansas. At the time, Deron Williams was still unsigned, and even though the Nets would have surely looked for someone more experienced to fill the void, the team was hedging its future bets.
Brooklyn is set at point guard with Williams and Watson now, so Taylor is a project, future investment and garbage-time baller until further notice. His first-year impact will be minimal.
But as noted by Newsday, he’s “stepped up” in the Summer League, continuing the respectable 15-plus PPG and 4.5-plpus APG performance he capped off his senior year with.
Taylor is sloppy with the ball with a penchant for turnovers. Give him time. He could be a second-rounder that makes it.
Joe Johnson is the cog that kept the Hawks' machine running. The trade for starting shooting guard Johnson was the impetus for Deron Williams signing, and with those two moves, what plenty are calling one of the best backcourts in basketball was born.
That's a little overblown. But they are a true team core that can be built around with strong role players—which the Nets are awash in—and it's definitely the best backcourt the Nets have had since Jason Kidd, and maybe even ever. That is something to get excited about.
This backcourt is a scoring machine. If Williams continues to let loose on the offensive end, this is a 30-40 point one-two on a regular basis. Johnson has consistently shot on average 45 percent or better over the past eight years of his career and about 17 PPG for the past nine.
Johnson can also play small forward when the Nets want to go small, with Gerald Wallace moving to the No. 4.
It's a big upgrade to Joe Johnson from last season's rookie starter MarShon Brooks, but Brooks had a relatively under the radar (10th in Rookie of the Year voting) freshman campaign boasting a scoring average in double-figures (12.6) over about 50 games started.
Brooks will continue to improve behind Johnson and will be valuable in extending Johnson's career (and helping insure that big contract) by consuming minutes whenever possible. Brooks already played about 30 minutes a game last year.
Keith Bogans is third on the shooting guard depth chart. He can also play some small forward.
There's not much here with Bogans, who is on the tail end of a career, but he was cheap and provides additional scoring depth.
Bogans was picked up by the Nets before last season, but after five games he went down with a broken ankle.
He's a good locker-room guy.
With the free-agent frenzy swirling around them, Deron Williams on the bubble, Dwight Howard slipping from their grasp and unsure of being able to secure, well, anyone of value in the offseason, the Brooklyn Nets shot a quick, overpaid, but not that expensive contract out to Gerald Wallace early on ($40 million for four years).
Wallace has never been a standout and now is in decline. But he perked up last season in New Jersey, improving on all his offensive averages after a dismal start in Portland.
It's not offense Brooklyn's looking for here, though. Wallace is perfect as a third, fourth or even fifth offensive option. He's averaged 15 points a game for most of his career. That's almost indulgent as so late an option.
It's defense. According to Bleacher Report's Maxwell Ogden, Wallace is "all-out defender whose effort, strength, physicality and athleticism enable him to shut down even the greatest of opponents."
With Joe Johnson at the 3, Wallace can use that strength to great effect as an undersized power forward. That set will be played.
Jerry "Geriatric" Stackhouse brings 17 years of NBA experience with him to Brooklyn.
And versatility. At the veteran's minimum of about $1.3 million, Stackhouse is a bargain. He will be an adequate time-killer for Wallace, and can also jump in at shooting guard.
There's still some fumes left in his tank, but at worst think of Stackhouse as injury insurance. It will come in handy.
Tornike Shengelia had his bags packed for one more season Europe and wasn't even supposed to make the Nets roster this year, but he had a strong showing in the Summer League, averaging "10.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and [shooting] 53 percent from the field" (via the NY Post).
If he keeps that up in the regular season off the pine as a swingman between both forward positions, along with Stackhouse, Brooks and Watson, the Nets will have one of the deeper offensive benches in the East.
The Nets had no choice but to sign Kris Humphries as their starting power forward.
It could be a lot worse.
Humphries is at the peak of his career right now, his two best years the last two in New Jersey, and everything is pointing towards this trend continuing.
Humphries is the best (only?) rebounder on the team, and also scores in double figures, making him Brooklyn's only real double-double threat.
With the offensive wealth more spread around in 2012-13, the Nets will need the big man to focus on defense, a major team weakness.
Now about that defense.
According to Sports Illustrated, Reggie Evans is "one of the most rugged role players in the league," and is not in Brooklyn to score.
The 245-pound Evans will wear teams down out of the power forward position when Humphries hits the bench.
Though not a true center, or even close to tall enough at 6'8", Evans will also be effective enough as an alternate at the 5 for a Brooklyn team that only has a possibly fragile Brook Lopez manning the middle.
The Nets have a versatile small-ball set when Evans, Wallace and Johnson shift, and a Kris Humphries-Reggie Evans line will be difficult to pierce in the paint, amplifying a defense that needs to play beyond its means.
Mirza Teletovic is a seven-year veteran out of Europe who averaged between 16 and 21 points per game depending on which of the two leagues he played in last year.
Teletovic brings with him a conservative continental text book game. According to Yahoo! Sports, he "shoots in a wide variety of ways; coming off screens, pulling up, or his specialty, off the pick and pop."
Expect to see him play equal time at center and power forward, as the Nets scramble to prop up Brook Lopez.
And finally, Brook Lopez, the sole center, and though not the best player on the team, in a way he's the lynchpin pinching it all together.
Lopez is a beast and when he went down last season with those nagging ankle and foot injuries, managing just five games, he took the Nets season down with him—Deron Williams or no Deron Williams.
That is why it was so critical for Brooklyn to add "just in case" pieces like Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic—as backups. Good thing too, as the big man free agent pickings (ahem, Dwight Howard) just didn't make their way to the borough.
A returned-to-form Lopez will pour in 20 points a night.
As with most of the team, though, Lopez's defense is lacking, and he absolutely needs to improve both on his rebounding and blocking.