Brooklyn Nets: 5 Reasons Mikhail Prokhorov's 5-Year Plan Won't Work
It's been two years since that day, and the Nets have endured some rough times. Over the past three seasons, the Nets have put together a record of 58-172. Needless to say, they haven't made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.
After such poor performances, Prokhorov gave general manager Billy King the resources necessary to retain Deron Williams and put above-average pieces behind him. By resources, I mean upwards of $330 million.
Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace represent the most notable acquisitions to the starting lineup, while Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson and Jerry Stackhouse comprise the bigger names acquired to help on the bench.
The Nets will be much improved from their recent play, but there's no way they win a championship within the next three seasons.
Prokhorov really put himself in a hole when he waited two years to start the roster overhaul, and the players on the current roster just won't have the firepower necessary to bring a championship to Brooklyn before 2015.
With the way the current roster stands, the Nets really only have two above-average defenders—starting small forward Gerald Wallace and reserve guard Keith Bogans.
Wallace was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 2009-10, while also leading the league in steals in 2005-06 with 2.5 per game.
Bogans is known for his ability to defend on the perimeter, while also averaging 0.7 steals per game in 22 minutes per game over the course of his 10-year NBA career.
After those two players, the Nets simply cannot play defense.
Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries are not dominating presences on defense in the paint. Zach Lowe puts it well when describing Humphries: "[He] doesn't have the genius-level innate understanding of space, timing, and angles that can turn a so-so defender into a very good one."
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson focus on scoring more than they focus on defense, while the bench also doesn't play the defense necessary for the Nets to contend.
The Nets may be able to put up a lot of points, but their defense will keep them from winning an NBA Championship.
Rebounding in the Frontcourt
One of the keys to winning basketball games consistently in the NBA is winning the battle on the boards.
The Nets don't do that very often.
On the season, the Nets have only out rebounded their opponents by an average of 3.0 per game. That current positive rating is a result of Deron Williams and some of the other non-big men working harder on the glass than usual.
Lopez is a downright bad rebounder for a man that is 7'0" tall. He's averaging just 6.6 per game this season. Reggie Evans is also averaging 6.6 per game, but he's averaged just 15.8 minutes per game.
Humphries has rebounded well, grabbing 9.8 per game. He's been the lone bright spot rebounding-wise from the starting five. He can't be relied upon to grab all the rebounds, though, so Lopez will have to improve.
Lopez has never averaged more than 8.6 per game in a season, however, so chances are we won't see much improvement.
This lack of a dominant presence from the center position will make it difficult to win a championship.
The Eastern Conference
The Nets may be improving, but they'll still have to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. The Knicks are now 5-0 and seem like a real threat to the top teams in the conference.
The Celtics, while they are aging, have made a conscious effort at putting younger players around Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Throw in the fact that they have arguably the best point guard in the game in Rajon Rondo, and they'll compete for a long time.
The Knicks are undefeated, and haven't won a game by less than 10 points. It may be early on, but they seem dominant. All this has been done without big man Amar'e Stoudemire, by the way.
To be the best, you have to beat the best.
The Nets played the Heat early last week. Billy King claimed that his roster was constructed to compete with Miami. The end result of the game was a 30-point beatdown by the Heat.
Brooklyn will have plenty more opportunities to play the three aforementioned teams, along with other strong teams in the Eastern Conference, but the 30-point loss may be a sign of things to come.
Joe Johnson's Potential Decline
When Billy King acquired Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, he was well aware that he was taking on a player on the downslope of his career.
Johnson is 31 years old and hasn't averaged over 20 points per game in two seasons. Prior to that, he posted five straight seasons of 20-plus points per contest.
This season, he has scored just 13.6 per contest. That may be a result of his very poor shooting percentage of 36 percent, but it could also be a result of adjusting to his role on the Nets.
Regardless, it's clear that he's not as dynamic of a scorer as he has been in the past.
He's also in the midst of a deal that will see him earn $19.75 million this season. The annual value of the contact increases with each passing season, eventually reaching its peak in 2015 when he'll earn over $24 million.
This contract will prevent the Nets from upgrading in other areas of need, especially as they look to fix any flaws they may have through next offseason's class of free agents.
Having so much money tied up in a player on the decline is not a smart strategy for any NBA team, let alone one that intends on competing for an NBA Championship.
The pressure alone should be enough to make the Nets chances at winning a title difficult.
Prokhorov was adamant in his remarks, guaranteeing a championship from his team within five seasons. Now, with just three remaining, the window is closing faster than we think.
It's not like Prokhorov is guaranteeing a win in a tough game, nor is like he is guaranteeing a winning season, or a playoff berth—no, he is guaranteeing a championship.
The Nets will undoubtedly be playing hard to make that goal a reality, as they obviously want the championship as bad as Prokhorov does.
Playing hard can't get a team to the top, though, as talent and experience come into play. The Nets aren't the most talented team in the league—though they are one of the more talented in the Eastern Conference—and their are teams that will have no problems handling them.
Assuming the team makes the playoffs, a team like the Heat or the Celtics could easily put them in an early 2-0 deficit. The pressure to come back and make Prokhorov's dream a reality will cause them to force shots and look for opportunities that aren't there.
The Nets won't be able to win a championship in three more seasons, and pressure will play a part in that.
*All statistics as of November 12, 2012