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. Phil Jackson agrees with Jeff Van Gundy’s assessment of Triangle Offense

    Oct 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Phil Jackson Phil Jackson

    Van Gundy downplayed the offense’s impact on a team’s success, and Jackson co-signs.

  2. LeBron James special ‘Becoming’ to premiere on Disney XD (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Google ChromeScreenSnapz004

    Filmed in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, “Becoming” includes rarely seen footage from LeBron James’ earliest days in sports.

  3. Josh Smith dunks all over Nerlens Noel (VIDEO)

    Oct 24, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT

    Nerlens Noel, Josh Smith AP

    Noel isn’t ready to stop that much power going to the rim yet.

  4. 67RIEFNS No. 30: Tim Duncan doing it again

    Oct 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin 2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin

    Spurs big man just won’t stop producing great seasons

  5. Daryl Morey: Last year’s Rockets were “average”

    Oct 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets Press Conference Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets Press Conference

    Why is Houston’s general manager downplaying his own team’s success?

  6. Donald Sterling is negotiating dismissal of his federal lawsuit against the NBA

    Oct 23, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

    Sterling had previously dropped a fraud charge against the NBA.

  7. Steve Nash to miss entire 2014-15 season with ongoing back injuries

    Oct 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Steve Nash Steve Nash

    The two-time MVP continues to battle nerve damage in his back.

  8. Report: Sixers in talks to acquire Marquis Teague from Nets

    Oct 23, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets Brooklyn Nets

    He’s already one of the best players in Philadelphia.

  9. PBT Extra: Miami leads teams taking step back this season

    Oct 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Media Day Getty Images

    When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.

  10. Kevin Love to Timberwolves fans: “Thanks for not burning my jersey”

    Oct 23, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Love reflects on his summer and the blockbuster trade in a new “Players Tribune” essay.

  11. NBA unveils new replay center, will have it ready on opening night

    Oct 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    NBA replay center

    It looks like a NASA launch center… but it’s a good thing for the league.

  12. Kevin Love wants more inside touches

    Oct 23, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Memphis Grizzlies Cleveland Cavaliers v Memphis Grizzlies

    Cavalier star forward still adjusting to playing with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving

Featured video

Heat can make playoffs without LeBron
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4558)
  2. B. Lopez (4354)
  3. N. Noel (4250)
  4. J. Lin (4138)
  5. V. Oladipo (4117)