The Brooklyn Nets had an active offseason after being eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. With owner Mikhail Prokhorov hungry for a championship, general manager Billy King went out and retooled the Nets' roster.
Thanks to the blockbuster trade that delivered Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, as well as a couple of other key signings, Brooklyn is now one of the favorites to rise out of the Eastern Conference and compete for a title.
Let's take a look at the Nets' offseason and grade the moves that were made.
King used his first round pick wisely, selecting an athletic big man with upside in Mason Plumlee 22nd overall.
Plumlee stands in at 6'11" and possesses a great motor and plenty of intangibles.
He runs the floor well, and has been most effective defensively thanks to the tremendous amount of energy he plays with. He grabbed 27 rebounds over his last three preseason games—against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics—and also blocked four shots and picked up five steals.
Offensively, Plumlee is a little raw, but his ability to score in transition and finish around the rim has him pegged as a positive contributor. As he develops, he should evolve into a solid post scorer that has the ability to consistently knock down shots from within 18 feet.
Offseason Acquisitions: A
Brooklyn added some really talented players this offseason.
Although Garnett and Pierce are on the tail end of their careers, they can still compete at a high level—especially as role players, which they are, in essence, on this Nets team. Garnett and Pierce will have their impact felt on both ends of the floor, but their biggest contributions could possibly come from their presence in the locker room and during practice.
Garnett and Pierce have been in the league for 18 and 15 years, respectively, and over those years, the two have gained an array of knowledge that will be shared with their teammates. A youngster like Plumlee will learn a ton from simply being around KG, and the practice habits and attitudes of the Big Ticket and Pierce are enough to deter the Nets from a disappointing season.
The additions of Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston can't be overlooked either. Each of those veterans are high-character guys with fantastic work ethics that are always willing to leave their all on the court.
Preseason Performance: A
Brooklyn played a majority of its preseason games without Deron Williams and Terry, but that didn't slow the ball club down at all: the Nets went 5-2.
Preseason records aren't the end-all, be-all, but Brooklyn has looked like a real cohesive unit thus far. Head coach Jason Kidd has his ball club playing solid defense and running an offense that's fun to watch and highly effective.
Brook Lopez has looked impressive in each game he's played, scoring easily in the post and reserve big men, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans, have excelled in their respective roles. Blatche scored at least 10 points in every preseason game but Brooklyn's last against the Heat (he scored only eight points), and Evans has averaged 6.4 boards per game over an average of 13.9 MPG.
The Nets lived up to their hype throughout the preseason, receiving contributions from a variety of players, setting the stage for the regular season.