Brooklyn Nets: New Faces That Will Matter in the 2012-13 Season
While the Brooklyn Nets did not get their dream player in Dwight Howard, they made a lot of moves in the 2012 offseason and have a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. They made several pickups for both the starting lineup and the bench.
Here are six faces you will be seeing this coming season that you did not see much in 2011.
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Shooting guard Joe Johnson was grabbed by the Nets from the Atlanta Hawks as their biggest pickup of the summer. He will be looking to become the new big star of the basketball world in New York City.
Johnson is a six-time All-Star and a former All-NBA team member in large part because of his offensive prowess. He has scored more than 18 points per game and shot over 43 percent from the field for the past seven years in a row.
He is 31 years old, but his 2011 true shooting percentage of 56 and effective field goal percentage of 52 were both well above the league average and his own career average.
While Johnson is not known for putting up huge assist numbers, he is an above average passer for a shooting guard. He has been called an elite passer by some. More importantly, being thrown into a backcourt with star point guard Deron Williams opens up the opportunity for significant improvement in that department.
Optimistic Nets fans have at least some reason to hope that 2012 will be a career year for Johnson, who is not yet so old that he cannot learn a few new tricks.
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Starting center Brook Lopez is not technically new to the Brooklyn Nets but is effectively new to this year's team. He played only five games last season due to injury, and he has not played with most of the players currently on the Nets roster.
Nets fans should be excited at the prospect of a healthy Lopez. He has some pretty big fans now, with Shaq calling him better than Dwight Howard.
While Shaq is off the mark on this one, Lopez can be a quality starting center. Two years ago—when he was healthy—he averaged 20.4 points per game on 49 percent shooting.
Keeping Lopez healthy and operating efficiently in concert with point guard Deron Williams will be one of the big keys to the Nets 2012-13 season.
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Technically Gerald Wallace is not new. He was acquired late in the 2011-12 season. However, he has only played 16 games in a Nets uniform. Moreover, he has never started a game with Nets center Brook Lopez. For all intents and purposes, Wallace is a new teammate who needs to learn to play with his fellow Nets.
Despite being an All-Star and All-NBA Defensive First Teamer only two years ago, Wallace does not get the kind of attention an All-Star normally gets. He had a fantastic 2009-10 season, leading the Charlotte Bobcats to the only playoff birth in their franchise history. It has been largely overlooked how huge the drop-off was in the Bobcats performance since they traded Wallace away during the 2010-11 season.
At age 30, Wallace may still have a lot left in the tank. He has the potential to be the Nets best defensive player and a major part of the offense. He has never had the opportunity to play with a point guard as skilled as Deron Williams.
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Point guard C.J. Watson went undrafted in 2006 and did not play in the NBA until 2008. However, he has improved dramatically and is now one of the best backup point guards in the league.
He gained more attention in 2011 when Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose was troubled with injuries. Watson did a solid job of filling in. In the 49 games he played with the Bulls last season, he averaged 15 points per 36 minutes to go with 6.2 assists and a true shooting percentage of 49.
Deron Williams cannot play 48 minutes per game, and the addition of Watson as a backup is significant.
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Backup small forward Josh Childress was drafted sixth overall in 2004. He was somewhat of a draft bust for the Atlanta Hawks, which is how he found himself overseas and now here with the Nets.
His best year so far was his rookie season, during which he made the All-Rookie Second Team and put up 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Childress came back to the NBA in 2010 to play with the Phoenix Suns. If he can work his way back into the kind of shape he was in in 2004 (he is only 29 years old) then he can be a valuable asset for the Nets coming off the bench.
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Backup PF/C Andray Blatche should expect to see some real playing time for the Nets this season, backing up Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.
A late second-round pick in 2005, Blatche spent the first seven years of his career with the Washington Wizards as a borderline starter. He has started 176 out of the 409 games in which he has played.
Blatche's best season so far came in 2010. He started 63 games for the Wizards and averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. As far as backup big men go, the Nets could have done a lot worse than Blatche.