5 Reasons Why Revamped Brooklyn Nets Will Be a Top 4 Eastern Conference Team
The 2012-13 NBA season is just under one month away. The time for preparation is winding down and the expectations are beginning to grow larger. No longer will paper rosters determine battles, as the games are soon to begin.
So who will survive the on-court battles that are bound to ensue?
Although battered by injuries, the first place we will be looking to answer that question is the Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat are preparing to defend their crown, while the Boston Celtics are eager to make their mark with a revamped roster.
Those Beantown boys are not the only ones who have made some significant changes. Joining them are the latest sports franchise to become Brooklynites.
The Brooklyn Nets were as active as any this offseason, acquiring All-Stars and improving their roster all the way through. The question is, how much better are the Nets going to be in 2013 than they were in 2012?
Despite popular belief, this will be a tale of two seasons. The Brooklyn Nets are going to finish the year as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference.
Here is why.
5. Favorable Schedule
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When a new group of players comes together, it's important that they develop a feel for each other's style of play. The greatest way for a unit to achieve such is to experience the highs and lows of an NBA season.
They must win big against inferior opponents and discover how tough it can be against the game's elite. Thankfully for the Brooklyn Nets, their 2012-13 NBA schedule enables them to do just that.
The first month of the season will be one of great range for the Nets. Bottom half opponents include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers and three battles with the Orlando Magic.
To put it simply, the opportunity to experiment has presented itself due to the quality of those teams.
Not all will be peaceful, however, as the necessary early tests are in place. Games are currently scheduled against the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and their cross-city rivals, the New York Knicks.
Finding an identity is always a difficult process. With such a well-balanced schedule to open up the season, however, the Nets are in prime position to set a pace for greatness early on.
As for how they close out the season, expect the Brooklyn Nets to be riding a high into the playoffs. Their final month includes games against the Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.
4. Starting 5
When Brook Lopez is your biggest question mark, you're looking good.
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Although this is all paper speculation, the Brooklyn Nets have pieced together one of the best starting fives in the NBA. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are perennial All-Stars while Gerald Wallace is widely considered to be one of the best all-around defenders in the game today.
This rounds out, arguably, the best perimeter in the NBA.
In the frontcourt, Kris Humphries has ranked in the Top 5 in terms of rebounds per game in each of the past two seasons. Brook Lopez, meanwhile, is a 20 point per game threat whose rebounding abilities are overly criticized.
With each of these players holding down their respective positions in quality form, it's hard to pinpoint any position in which the Brooklyn Nets are lacking. For that reason, their starting five becomes a great asset in their pursuit of a top spot in the East.
A goal that seems all the more realistic when the talent is weighed.
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If the starting lineup improves the Brooklyn Nets' chances of success, the depth on their roster all but seals their fate as a top team in the Eastern Conference.
Led by second-year scoring guard MarShon Brooks, the Nets have a quality group of secondary options. As a rookie, Brooks averaged 12.6 points per game. Many project the slashing point machine to become a star one day, and the tutelage of Joe Johnson is certain to help the process along.
To go with Brooks, the Nets have pieced together a solid group of veterans.
The point guard position has improved tremendously with the addition of former Chicago Bulls starter C.J. Watson. The sharpshooter will work with defensive stopper and former teammate Keith Bogans to solidify the perimeter.
Despite underachieving through six years in the league, having Josh Childress on the perimeter offers further reason for confidence.
In the frontcourt is where the greatest advantage comes. Reggie Evans is a physical power forward with a great deal of postseason experience. The rebounding machine will be paired with Mirza Teletovic, who was one of the best players in all of Europe before signing with the Nets this summer.
At center, the Nets made a significant signing with one of the most polarizing players in the game. That player, of course, is Andray Blatche.
Although Blatche may not be the most encouraging player, he is far more talented than his production would suggest. On the heels of a humbling summer in which he was not only amnestied, but then signed as a reserve, it's possible that his ability is soon to be maximized.
If that's the case, this second unit becomes all the more dangerous.
2. Postseason Experience
Before joining the Brooklyn Nets, D-Will was one of the best postseason performers in the game.
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The Brooklyn Nets are not your conventional first year conglomeration of talent. This is a team that has been built via the acquisition of respected veterans with a history of quality work.
Most importantly, they're veterans with postseason experience.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace are not only an elite perimeter, as previously alluded to, but have a plethora of postseason experience. Between them, they've played 131 games during the playoffs.
Tack on another 180 combined games from their second unit and you've found yourself a team that is well-suited for the pressure of the postseason.
The question, of course, will be how Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez handle the spotlight. Both lack true postseason experience, as both of Humphries' appearances provided minimal playing time. Lopez, meanwhile, has never even seen the bright lights.
Fortunately, Reggie Evans is right there with them in the frontcourt. The same Reggie Evans who Chris Paul gave the game ball to after the Los Angeles Clippers' historic 27-point comeback during the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
1. Derrick Rose's Injury
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With Derrick Rose missing roughly half of the 2012-13 NBA season, a void has been left at the top of the Eastern Conference. Although Tom Thibodeau has proven capable of winning during the regular season without Rose in the lineup, there is no way to guarantee the Chicago Bulls will find the same success in 2012-13.
For that reason, it is safe to assume that one of the top four slots in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs.
Although some will jump the gun on teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers or New York Knicks, both teams have an equal amount of question marks as the Brooklyn Nets. In fact, it'd be fair to claim that the Nets' paper roster has less holes in it than that of either division foe.
But what is it that provides us with the belief that the Nets are more qualified than the Sixers and Knicks?
For one, this is a matter of the past dictating the future. For the Knicks, the tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire has been unable to produce desired results. The chemistry between the two megastars is virtually non-existant and the ability to win together has been lost as a result.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers, Andrew Bynum's superstar upside has yet to come to fruition. His dominance has come in isolated incidents and the necessary maturity to lead a team to a championship is far from present.
With these factors acknowledged, the Brooklyn Nets have the cleanest slate to work with. For that reason, this recent conglomeration of talent is destined for a spot amongst the Eastern Conference elite.