After bolstering their starting lineup and upgrading their reserves, the Brooklyn Nets now possess a championship-caliber roster.
The additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko provide the Nets with leadership, wisdom and even more star power. Each player can be depended upon as the season progresses with attitudes and skill sets that mesh well with their teammates.
Let's take a look at how the future Hall of Famers, Garnett and Pierce, rank against their peers as well as the rest of the athletes currently under contract with Brooklyn.
15. Tyshawn Taylor, PG
He's been shaky with the ball. Against the Washington Wizards, he put up 16 points and dished out six assists, but he turned the ball over seven times. In 10 minutes of action against the Philadelphia 76ers, he scored only five points with one assist and one turnover. He's the third point guard on Brooklyn's depth chart, but it may be a while before he displays the awareness and wherewithal necessary to have a consistent role on a championship contender.
14. Tornike Shengelia, SF
At the moment, he's recovering from knee surgery, but as a 6'9" 22-year-old, he's an interesting prospect. He played in 19 games throughout his rookie season in 2012-13, averaging 4.9 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG and 0.2 APG. This season will feature him learning from Brooklyn's veterans as he eases into game shape and evolves as a basketball player.
13. Mason Plumlee, C/PF
The Duke University standout is gifted athletically—he runs the floor well, can finish around the rim and is a solid rebounder and shot blocker. He's a high energy guy who will work hard every game chasing after loose balls and forcing turnovers wherever possible.
12. Alan Anderson, SG
In four preseason games, he's shot 10-of-28 from the field and has averaged just over two turnovers a game. He has decent range on his shot and can create off the dribble for himself, but he may struggle to find playing time. He'll need to cut back on his turnovers and improve his perimeter shooting to move up the depth chart.
11. Mirza Teletovic, PF
Unlike last season, Teletovic actually looks comfortable and effective on the floor. He's shooting the ball confidently and has made some flashy plays, including a great put-back dunk against the Washington Wizards. His outside shot could use more consistency—he's gone 3-of-7, 2-of-7, 5-of-9 and 1-of-6 from the three-point line, but that should come together as the season progresses and he finds his rhythm.
Jason Terry gives Brooklyn a great scoring threat off of the bench that can also create for his teammates. He had an off-year with the Boston Celtics last season but should return to form, seeing as the Nets will rely on him far less than the Celtics.
Terry will resume his sixth man role and should ignite the offense when he steps on the court. His ability to handle the ball and occasionally run an offense will come in handy if injuries hamper Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams at all.
Reggie Evans is best known for his rebounding expertise and tough defense, which is exactly what this ball club needs out of a reserve big man.
Last season, as a starter for 56 games, Evans did little to remedy Brooklyn's spacing issues, but now that Kevin Garnett is ahead of him on the depth chart, Evans can slot back into the off-the-bench role he's best suited for.
Instead of being a liability on offense, thanks to his poor shooting, he's now a luxury for Brooklyn as a reserve that can turn his motor to its highest level and defend and rebound at will without worrying about foul trouble.
Shaun Livingston is a solid backup for Deron Williams. He's a good defender, reliable ball handler and smart passer.
In his first four preseason games, he turned the ball over six times and dished out 22 assists. He won't carve up defenses like Deron Williams, but he is very efficient with the ball. He's shot 12-of-15 from the field and hasn't attempted a three-pointer, which he rarely ever does.
Figuring he can stay healthy, Livingston at the 1 will allow Williams to to not play through too many injuries.
Andray Blatche shot the ball well throughout the preseason. He will be one of the primary reserve scorers for Brooklyn this season and has shown that he can be depended upon if Kevin Garnett or Brook Lopez sit out due to injuries or foul trouble.
He needs to be stronger with the ball, however. He had 15 turnovers in the preason, which is far too many for a big man off the bench. As chemistry develops, Blatche should see a decrease in his turnovers per game, but if he doesn't stop giving away possessions, he could lose significant playing time.
Throughout the preseason, Andrei Kirilenko was as active as expected.
Against the Washington Wizards, he put up 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. In his second game, against the Detroit Pistons, he stole the ball four times and blocked three shots.
Kirilenko is the kind of energetic player that almost always manages to leave a positive impact. He's willing to dive after loose balls, and his unselfishness fits perfectly with all of Brooklyn's weapons. He won't pout about playing time or getting shots; he'll hustle, defend and pick up as many deflections as possible. And when he gets the ball, he'll look to make the right play for his team.
Since the Brooklyn Nets won't need to rely on Joe Johnson to score, Johnson should have one of his most efficient seasons shooting the rock.
Defenses won't be able to double-team him thanks to the variety of weapons at Brooklyn's disposal, and with fewer isolation-sets ran, he should find himself in better positions to score rather than working diligently to create them for himself.
In his second and third preseason games against the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively, Johnson shot 4-of-7 and 7-of-12 from the field, respectively. He also shot 4-of-8 from downtown against the 76ers and dropped six dimes.
His turnover numbers have been high, compiling 10 thus far, but that should decrease as Deron Williams returns and team chemistry improves.
The 15-year veteran wasn't an electric scorer throughout the preseason, but he didn't exactly hoist many shots.
In his first two games, playing 12 and 14 minutes, respectively, Pierce went 1-of-3 and 1-of-2 from the field. Against the Boston Celtics, he logged 27 minutes but drained only 1-of-6 field goals. He made up for his lackluster shooting performance by grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing five dimes.
Pierce is still finding his rhythm, and once he does, his shooting will improve. On those nights, when he can't buy a basket, however, he'll still be serviceable as a decoy and distributor.
With Kevin Garnett on the floor, the Nets have a legitimate pick-and-pop option and a leader that can anchor their defense. He might be 37 years old, but he plays with the same tenacity and intensity as he did in his prime.
He doesn't have the athleticism and explosiveness of his early days in the NBA, but his knowledge of the game places him in the right position to make plays. He'll continue rebounding and defending well as the season progresses, and he'll make big plays offensively whenever necessary.
Deron Williams is one of the league's premier playmakers. He's battled some injuries since joining the Nets, but he has still put up solid numbers. Figuring he stays healthy throughout the season, this should be one of his best statistical seasons.
With Brooklyn's talented starting lineup and reserves like Jason Terry, Andray Blatche and Andrei Kirilenko, Williams has plenty of teammates to pass to that can knock down shots and help his assists average rise above 10 per game.
Brook Lopez could be the Nets' most valuable player this season. He has the offensive ability to dominate the paint and carry Brooklyn past their competitors.
With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce replacing Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace in the starting lineup, there will be plenty of spacing on the court for Lopez to work down-low without constantly facing double-teams. Throughout the preseason, Lopez has scored fairly easily. In his first four preseason games, he had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, eight points on 3-of-7, 17 points on 7-of-14 and 20 points on 8-of-15 from the field.
Lopez also swatted 11 shots over those four preseason games, including a five-block performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. The addition of Garnett not only makes life easier for Lopez offensively, but defensively as well, seeing as he can learn all the subtleties necessary to become a better defender and anchor for Brooklyn.