Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have lofty expectations to fulfill.
Training camp will be the first indication of where the Nets stand with their newcomers and rookie head coach, and which improvements—if any—will be made.
Let's take a quick look at how Brooklyn fared last season:
- 49-33 record
- Finished second in the Atlantic Division
- Ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference
- Lost in the first round of the playoffs 4-3 to the Chicago Bulls
Key Stats: The Good and Bad
In 2012-13, the Nets grabbed the fourth-most offensive rebounds in the NBA with 1,047, trailing the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies. That must continue to be an area of expertise for the Nets, as those second-chance opportunities will increase their potential to win tough games when their stars struggle from the field.
Brooklyn will also need to improve on its total number of assists. Last season the Nets compiled only 1,668 assists, placing them 27th overall, above the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats and New York Knicks. Deron Williams was responsible for 604 of those dimes.
Biggest Storyline Entering Training Camp
The biggest storyline surrounding the Nets is Jason Kidd's coaching experience. With a roster ready to win now, Kidd's performance as a head coach will be focused on by pundits, particularly if Brooklyn struggles at any juncture.
Chemistry issues could arise if Kidd lacks a consistent rotation.
Key Additions & Losses
Key Additions: Paul Pierce, SF (One year, $15,333,334 remaining); Kevin Garnett, PF (Two years, $24,433,735 remaining); Jason Terry, SG (Two years, $11,475,626 remaining); Andrei Kirilenko, SF (One year, $3,183,000 remaining, with a 2014-15 player option for $3,326,235); Jason Kidd, head coach and Lawrence Frank, Eric Hughes and Roy Rogers, assistant coaches.
Key Losses: Gerald Wallace, SF (Three years, $30,317,565 remaining with BOS); MarShon Brooks, SG (One year, $1,276,560 remaining with a 2014-15 team option for $2,299,084 with BOS); Kris Humphries, PF (One year, $12,000,000 remaining with BOS) and P.J. Carlesimo, interim head coach.
Biggest Addition: Paul Pierce
Pierce gets the nod because he still has the ability to carry a team on his back and be the focal point of an offense.
While he won't need to lead the Nets like he once did for the Boston Celtics, he provides Brooklyn with the firepower necessary to spread the court and relieve the pressure defenses placed on Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams last year.
Biggest Loss: Gerald Wallace
Wallace never played as well as he should have for the Nets, especially on offense. In 2012-13 he averaged only 7.7 points per game.
His defense will be missed somewhat, as Pierce isn't as tough of a defender as Wallace was, but the drop-off shouldn't be too drastic.
|PG||Deron Williams||Shaun Livingston||Tyshawn Taylor|
|SG||Joe Johnson||Jason Terry||Alan Anderson|
|SF||Paul Pierce||Andrei Kirilenko||Tornike Shengelia|
|PF||Kevin Garnett||Reggie Evans||Mirza Teletovich|
|C||Brook Lopez||Andray Blatche||Mason Plumlee|
Training Camp Battle to Watch: Evans vs. Blatche
Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche will be competing all season for playing time. Whoever excels in training camp is likely to be Jason Kidd's first big man off the bench.
Although Blatche is a competent scorer and rebounder, averaging 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 19 minutes per game throughout 2012-13, he lacks the tenacity and toughness that Reggie Evans possesses.
Evans is a defensive workhorse and rebounding machine. Last season he grabbed 11.1 boards in 24.6 minutes a game. Though he was only on the court for five or so minutes more than Blatche per game, he doubled Blatche's rebounding total and then some.
As talented as Blatche is offensively, it'll be difficult for him to check in before Evans if the Nets aren't desperate for scoring.
Positional Battle: Terry vs. Anderson
There really shouldn't be much of a contest between Alan Anderson and Jason Terry as the lead reserve shooting guard, but there could be a competition brewing behind Joe Johnson at the 2.
Terry is coming off a down year with the Celtics. Last season, he averaged 10.1 points per game with a 43.4 field-goal percentage.
The Jet's career field-goal percentage is 44.7 percent, and while the drop-off isn't much, he's only shot above 44 percent once the past four years (45.1 percent in 2010-11 for the Dallas Mavericks).
Alan Anderson, on the other hand, is coming off the best year of his career. He averaged 10.7 points for the Toronto Raptors. While Anderson has never been as prolific a scorer as Terry, age may be catching up to the Jet, which could leave him susceptible to falling out of Jason Kidd's rotation.
If Anderson performs well in training camp, you may see Terry play more point guard with Anderson in the backcourt.
Biggest X-Factor: Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko is the Nets' sixth man this season.
He provides Brooklyn with versatility on both ends of the court—he could play both forward positions and not be a mismatch defensively—and is likely to dip his hands in as many statistical categories as possible.
Offensively, his unselfish style of play and high basketball IQ should prevent the offense from ever remaining stagnant. He'll find the open man cutting to the basket, and he'll drive and dish whenever necessary.
The worst-case scenario with Kirilenko is his erratic style of play.
Too often, he'll make a bizarre pass or try to do more than he should, which would lead to turnovers. For the Nets' sake, he will have to limit the need to be a superhero on the court and let the game come to him naturally.
The best-case scenario with Kirilenko is him blocking shots, finding the open man, rebounding and scoring in transition.
Projected Statistics for 2013-14: 9.9 PPG, 3.8 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Nets Best-Case Scenario in 2013-14
Obviously, winning a championship would be the best-case scenario.
However, with LeBron James and the Miami Heat looking to three-peat, it'll be a long and arduous task to make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone win a ring.
The Nets have the horses, depth and size necessary to dethrone the Heat, but it will definitely be a battle. Finishing second in the Eastern Conference and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals looks entirely possible for Brooklyn.
Nets Worst-Case Scenario in 2013-14
Jason Kidd flounders as a head coach and he loses the attention of his players.
This is pretty unlikely. Even without coaching experience, Kidd has been around the game long enough and is respected enough to lead the men he has at his disposal—but you never know.
If the Nets hit a rough patch and a couple of players start tuning him out, the entire locker room and season could be lost.
Lawrence Frank provides Kidd with a nice safety valve of experience, but even Frank has struggled at times as a head coach and lost the focus of his team.
The Nets have talented roster on paper and if everything clicks, Brooklyn can make a serious playoff run.
Provided that there aren't any serious injuries that linger throughout the 2013-14 season, Brooklyn should be one of the four teams participating in the conference finals.
Kevin Garnett will anchor the defense, Paul Pierce will have his share of 20-point games and Deron Williams will find Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson open for plenty of easy looks.
Andrei Kirilenko could contend for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, but he'll need to score more than 10 points per game, which may be difficult with Brooklyn's influx of talent.
Prediction: 60-22, No. 2 seed in East, lose in the Eastern Conference Finals.