Which Newly Acquired Brooklyn Nets Can Make an Impact This Season?
With their long-anticipated move to Brooklyn now complete, the Nets franchise is set to be born again. Fresh hardwood will provide the focal point of the Barclays Center. Redesigned uniforms will give the fanbase an entirely new look. And, lest we forget: 16 players who suited up at various times for New Jersey last season will be Nets no more, while (at least) six new additions are expected to round out a playoff roster.
Many of the incoming Nets would seem to be established commodities, but two are rookies, one has outlived his basketball usefulness and the other three are often misunderstood. Who among the new additions can Brooklyn count on to produce next season?
Let's take it from the top.
Evans is often credited with bringing a certain toughness to whichever team he plays for, but intangible superlatives shouldn't negate the fact that the man has but one NBA-level skill. Scorers don't often come to the big leagues less capable than Evans, and a once mediocre defender has only slowed with age.
All that's left of Evans' game is his rebounding, which is a kind way of saying that his already marginal peripheral skills have only faded further.
Nonetheless, there is room in the NBA for specialists, and Evans is certainly elite in his particular trade. Last season, Evans grabbed a greater percentage of available rebounds than all but two qualified leaders (Marcus Camby and Dwight Howard), and he's long been a fixture across the per-possession rebounding leaderboards.
He'll clean the glass for the reserves in the same way that Kris Humphries does for the first team—only without the finishing ability or baseline defense.
When the Atlanta Hawks were first smitten by Joe Johnson's game, they were apparently charmed by the wrong skills—while the Hawks brought in Johnson with the intent that he would act as the team's full-time ball-handler, it was obvious from Johnson's days in Phoenix that he was best used alongside a quality playmaker.
Deron Williams is just that, and though Johnson's deal creates all kinds of big-picture problems for a Nets team that's now financially locked into its current core, it should still be exciting to see Johnson again in his most natural element.
He'll still be able to isolate and set up his teammates when Williams defers or goes to the bench, but Brooklyn will have the ability to use a talented shooter and slasher effectively without worrying how his ball-dominant style might disrupt the rest of their offense.
The less you try to talk yourself into this particular signing, the better. There is no defensible reason for Stackhouse to take up a roster spot this season from a basketball perspective, making the rumors that this was a political (read: agent-related) signing all the more believable.
He'll practice, ice his knees and yap plenty, but don't expect him to play any kind of meaningful role as a player in this season or beyond.
Taylor—whom the Blazers selected with the 41st pick in the 2012 draft—is a complete wild card. His foot-speed gives him an NBA utility on both sides of the ball and could very well make him an effective dribble penetrator on the pro level.
But Taylor needs to curb some of his bad habits before he's ready for any kind of regular burn, making him a great prospect to keep around as a third guard.
Taylor has a significantly better chance than most second-round picks of eventually carving out a solid NBA career, but we shouldn't undersell just how far he has to go before he'd make for a useful rotation player.
Right now, he's far too erratic for any coach to really depend on him, but a few seasons growing his game could go a long way.
Where will the Nets finish in the Atlantic Division this season?
There will still be a curve of adjustment for a shooting big that's likely to pan out as a quality role player, but Teletovic should provide a much-needed change of pace (in ways both good and bad—Teletovic is a decidedly below-average rebounder) from range-less bigs like Humphries and Evans.
There aren't many clear analogues for Teletovic, who can put the ball on the floor in a way that many other sweet-shooting bigs simply can't. He won't be forced to create for himself as frequently as he was in Spain, but such a skill is useful nonetheless in escaping pressure and testing the discipline of opposing defenses.
Watson is just a few months removed from being the scapegoat of the Chicago Bulls' premature postseason exit, but a single error in judgment doesn't negate his wider utility.
He's essentially a three-and-D specialist who brings some playmaking on the side. Watson isn't capable of elevating the play of an offense or overcoming committed defensive pressure, but he takes care of the ball well, has converted over 39 percent of his three-point attempts over the last two seasons and is a valuable on-ball defender.
That's a great combination of skills for a reserve who will play both behind and alongside Williams in the season to come, and particularly so considering Watson's minimal salary.
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