The Brooklyn Nets' Front Line Is Championship Caliber, but Is Rest of Roster?
You hear chemistry thrown out there as a barrier. Some question the Brooklyn Nets' depth. Others are skeptical of the type of production to expect out of their aging superstars.
And they're all legitimate fears.
But every time I take a look at this roster, those fears starts to fade. This lineup is stacked from top to bottom, between the full-time centerpieces and part-time reserves.
Otherwise, the moves Brooklyn made this summer should propel it to a whole new level.
It's as if the Nets were on an NBA version of Supermarket Sweep and grabbed everything they needed from Boston's shelves. They got a go-to guy, some interior defense and rebounding, a sixth man, championship experience and a whole lot of leadership that money can't buy.
A frontcourt of Lopez, Garnett and Pierce is one that is able to offer interior offense, post defense, outside shooting and scoring from the wing.
Garnett recently spoke about how impressed he's been with Lopez, who's now up to 290 pounds of solid muscle. Garnett told Roderick Boone of Newsday, "I'm just in awe a little bit, just being honest with everybody," in reference to Lopez. Despite the additions, Lopez remains the X-factor in Brooklyn's lineup, giving it its toughest offensive mismatch and top option for half-court points.
With so many shooters around him, Lopez could be even more effective in the post this upcoming year.
Though I admire them as individual players, I was never in love with the idea of making Williams and Joe Johnson veteran team leaders. Neither have the personality or qualifications to shoulder such a responsibility for a title contender.
But the new guys do.
They should take some of the pressure off Williams and Johnson on and off the court. On it, they're two sub-43-percent shooters who combined to take roughly 30 shots a game last season. With the additions of Pierce and Garnett, we should see a little more efficiency and balance in a lineup that no longer has to rely so heavily on two perimeter scorers.
And though Jason Terry has lost some of his "Jet" fuel, he's still a valuable option off the bench. Considering how much firepower the Nets have in their starting lineup, they won't need Terry to win any awards off the bench. As long as he's out there making the open shots that find him, Terry brings something to Brooklyn's table.
Between Williams, Johnson, Terry and Shaun Livingston, it's tough to find much to complain about.
The signing of Andrei Kirilenko was huge. He's now Brooklyn's token jack-of-all-trades guy—the player who represents the glue between the other four players on the floor.
He's out there to do whatever it takes on each possession to increase the team's odds of success, whether that's making a pass, cleaning the glass, sneaking backdoor or spotting up in the corner.
He also gives them a defensive weapon and ball-stopper—someone who can afford to pick up fouls and irritate opposing scorers.
Brooklyn can also mix and match with Reggie Evans, a bully, and Mason Plumlee, an athlete. And though he's a liability for a boneheaded play or two, Andray Blatche can put points on the board.
With a second unit consisting of Terry, Kirilenko and Blatche, along with specialist reserves in Plumlee and Evans, I wouldn't classify Brooklyn's bench as much of a weakness at all.
Championship Caliber Roster?
Are the Brooklyn Nets a realistic title contender?
These guys have been around long enough where personal agendas shouldn't interfere. With everyone on the same page in terms of team goals, sacrificing won't be an issue.
And based on Pierce's latest comments, he seems rejuvenated and excited to be rocking black and white.
This is a team that can beat you with a different guy each night—take away one strength and they're capable of hitting you with another.
Given the new additions, Brooklyn should be a more potent and dangerous offensive lineup. And after finishing No. 6 in the NBA defensively in opponent scoring, there's no reason to believe the Nets will regress much on that side of the ball.
The only real weakness this roster has is a lack of familiarity with each other. And I said the same thing when Garnett went to Boston before they ended up winning a title in Year No. 1.
This time, I'm going to ignore the fears and red flags and say this Nets team is for real.
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