Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will provide the Nets with the veteran leadership they desperately needed.
The Nets enter the 2013-14 season with a starting lineup that will feature Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez. These five players have a combined 35 All-Star appearances among them.
Brooklyn was certainly a big winner in the offseason. The Nets made the necessary moves to compete against the elite teams in the Eastern Conference, including the defending champion Miami Heat.
Leadership, talent and depth will be strong suits of the new-look Brooklyn squad.
Pierce and Garnett, two players with championship pedigrees, will provide veteran leadership and toughness, while Terry, Kirilenko and Livingston will give head coach Jason Kidd some strong options coming off the bench.
The addition of Garnett will give the Nets one of the best frontcourt rotations in the NBA. Between KG, Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn will have the ability to bang down low with big, physical teams like the Pacers and Bulls.
Garnett’s offensive game should complement Lopez’s quite nicely. Both have the ability to connect on the mid-range jumper, and KG will provide Deron Williams with a pick-and-pop option, while Lopez excels at slashing through the paint on the pick-and-roll. Even great defensive teams like the Pacers, Bulls and Heat will have trouble stopping this tandem.
The Nets will have a formidable backcourt. D-Will, Joe Johnson and Pierce averaged a combined 53.8 points per game last season. These guys shouldn’t have a problem matching Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Paul George in the box score.
Williams and Pierce also give the Nets two elite facilitators. Pierce had an assist percentage of 24.5 in 2012-13 according to Basketball-Reference, finishing second only to LeBron James, while D-Will averaged 7.7 dimes per contest.
The Nets core is star-studded and talented. It would be foolish, however, to overlook the bench.
Livingston, Terry, Kirilenko, Evans and Blatche averaged a combined 44 points per game last season. These guys could be starting on a lot of NBA teams and will allow older players like Pierce, Garnett and Johnson to get the rest they need.
Fatigue could be a problem for a starting lineup with an average age of nearly 32. The NBA season is long, and older players like Garnett, Pierce, Williams and Johnson are more likely to succumb to injuries or mental and physical exhaustion during the 82-game grind.
The Nets will have to get up on a nightly basis for teams like the Pacers, Heat and even the Cleveland Cavaliers that feature young, talented players who like to push the tempo.
Continuity will also be an issue. It will take time for the incoming players and first-round draft pick Mason Plumlee to develop chemistry not only with each other, but with the returning players from last year’s roster as well. Kidd, the man in charge of developing this cohesion, is just two months removed from retirement and has no coaching experience.
Developing chemistry will also involve certain players finding their roles.
It will be interesting to see how Pierce and Johnson, who both like to have the ball in their hands, are able to work together in the offense. They’ll also have to work out who’s going to take the last shot. Will it be “Big Shot Joe” or “The Truth?” It could just depend on who gets the open look.
The Nets should be fine in the long run, but it won’t be surprising if they sputter out of the gate, especially against teams that have more continuity like the Heat, Pacers, Bulls and Knicks.
Brooklyn’s goal won’t be to win as many games as possible during the regular season; the team isn’t built for that. There will be nights when Pierce or Garnett don’t play, and that should be just fine with Kidd, general manager Billy King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who’ve got bigger and better things in mind.
The ideal scenario for the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets will be winning between 50 and 60 games during the regular season and entering the playoffs with a clean bill of health as a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Regular Season W-L Prediction: 57-25
Eastern Conference Playoff Seed: No. 3
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