Skip to content

Are the Brooklyn Nets contenders now? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Jun 28, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

Former NBA basketball player Kidd poses for photographers with Brooklyn Nets player Williams at a news conference in Brooklyn Reuters

Thanks to a blockbuster trade with Boston, next season the Brooklyn Nets will start Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. They will bring Jason Terry off the bench. They will start five former All-Stars and bring a former Sixth Man of the Year off the bench.

So can we say now the Brooklyn Nets are NBA title contenders?

Well… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Remember how a year ago we all looked at the Los Angeles Lakers on paper — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash — and penciled them into the NBA Finals? I’m not saying the Nets are going to self-destruct in dramatic fashion like L.A., I’m saying don’t assume everything will go smoothly.

Brooklyn should be a better team, a more dangerous playoff team, but a lot of things have to go right for them to knock Miami off it’s three-time defending Eastern Conference champions perch. Their margin for error is small.

What are the Nets’ issues?

• Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are getting older. And it shows. Don’t confuse 2013-14 Kevin Garnett with 2008 Kevin Garnett. Last season at age 36 Garnett appeared in 68 games and saw dips in efficiency, shooting percentage, and a little on the defensive end. That trend continued in the playoffs. Make no mistake, KG is still good and an upgrade at the four for Brooklyn, but he is 37 now and we can expect his game to erode further. Look at it this way — Garnett looked to wear down trying to stop Tyson Chander in the playoffs. Can he reverse that now as he is one year older?

Similar questions can be asked of Paul Pierce as he is now 36 — he averaged 18.6 points a game last year but his shooting percentage the last two seasons (43.6 percent last year) tailed off from the Boston title years. Again, he is still good and an upgrade, but he will regress some next season. And how will his legs be after an 82-game schedule?

• Can Deron Williams be the Utah Deron Williams again? His last two seasons in Brooklyn D-Will has been good, but he hasn’t been playing at the level we saw him at in Utah. He is still the best player on this team and the guy with the ball in his hands most of the time, he has to be elite. He has to be the guy we compared to Chris Paul, not the guy of the last few years.

• Do they have enough depth for the regular season? Brooklyn has an impressive starting five, but things drop off after that. Jason Terry is a former Sixth Man of the Year but he was unimpressive in Boston and will be age 36 next season. Reggie Evans stays but he will play a limited role on a good team. MarShon Brooks is now gone and part of that deal with Boston. (he wasn’t at first) so he is out. Andray Blatch is a free agent and the buzz around the league is he could bolt. Coach Jason Kidd has to keep the minutes for KG and Pierce and Terry in check this season and still get wins.

• Jason Kidd has to be the coach they think he can be. Kidd’s basketball IQ isn’t in question, but knowing what to do on the court and being able to transfer that knowledge to young players without his gifts is another. First year coaches in this situation can have a rough learning curve (Mark Jackson wasn’t an instant success in Golden State) and the window in Brooklyn with this roster is small. (The Nets did just hire Lawrence Frank to be Kidd’s lead assistant, which should help.)

Make no mistake, I still like this trade for the Nets. For one, they got rid of the horrible Gerald Wallace contract and unloaded Kris Humphries in the process. They had a terrible set of contracts on this team and they got out from under a lot of them and will have more flexibility after this season when Pierce’s deal expires (and Garnett likely retires next summer or in two summers).

Plus Brooklyn did get better on the court. The Nets can now be in the conversation with the Indiana Pacers (who get Danny Granger back) and the Chicago Bulls (who get Derrick Rose back) as to who has a shot to beat the Miami Heat.

But for Brooklyn to reach that NBA Finals goal a whole bunch of things need to go just right. And I am not sold at all that is how the season will unfold.

Latest Posts
  1. Dwyane Wade shows off blood-spattered Dexter shoes (photos)

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Dwyane Wade Dwyane Wade

    Heat guard getting style from fictional Miami serial killer

  2. Mavericks sign Doron Lamb

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb

    Lamb, after playing for Bucks and Magic, likely to fall out of NBA following training camp

  3. Report: Nets signing Willie Reed

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor

    Reed, previously a member of Kings and Grizzlies, in line to compete for roster spot

  4. Andrew Wiggins not bad with first pitch before Twins game (VIDEO)

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Arizona Diamondbacks v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

    He’s better than Charles Barkley already at this.

  5. NBA’s rookie transition program presents information in a compelling way in order to promote real discussion

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Initially uncomfortable information is presented in order to create a dialogue on real-life scenarios, which helps prepare rookies for their initial steps into the NBA life.

  6. NBA tips-off season-long All-Star charitable outreach program in New York area

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:25 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Monday tipped-off a series of NBA Cares and charitable events around the New York area tied to the All-Star Game.

  7. Celtics owner: Rajon Rondo ‘super stubborn,’ harder than average to coach

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Wyc Grousbeck also says he wants Boston to keep point guard long term

  8. Hornets, in search of big man, sign Dallas Lauderdale and Brian Qvale

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Texas-San Antonio v Ohio State Getty Images

    Charlotte also adds Justin Cobbs, who went undrafted out of Cal

  9. Lakers sign Wayne Ellington, who played best for Byron Scott

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers

    Ellington, who played for Scott with Cavaliers, received partially guaranteed contract

  10. Blake Griffin understands that Los Angeles is still a Lakers’ town

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin AP

    It’s not going to change anytime soon, either.

  11. Report: Jazz to work out John Stockton’s son

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:44 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship - Brigham Young v Gonzaga Getty Images

    David Stockton, an undrafted free agent out of Gonzaga, also worked out for Thunder

  12. Bruce Bowen says blame for James Harden’s defense falls on McHale, Rockets

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    The Rockets’ defensive system is not the problem with James Harden.

  13. Jazz sign Dahntay Jones

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Jones previously played for the Grizzlies, Kings, Nuggets, Pacers, Mavericks and Hawks

  14. Report: Darko Milicic leaving basketball, taking up kickboxing

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve

    Former Pistons No. 2 draft pick putting some distance between himself and basketball

  15. Caldwell Jones dies at 64

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Jones – who played for the 76ers, Rockets, Bulls (during Michael Jordan’s rookie season), Trail Blazers and Spurs – helped shape Tim Duncan’s career

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. E. Bledsoe (2863)
  2. R. Rondo (2642)
  3. K. Bryant (2236)
  4. L. James (2166)
  5. R. Allen (1877)
  1. N. Young (1818)
  2. D. Rose (1732)
  3. J. Hickson (1675)
  4. B. Jennings (1615)
  5. R. Rubio (1586)