The Nets dismal season last year was hardly memorable, minus the fact it was the team’s last in New Jersey. A fresh start in Brooklyn is exciting, but General Manager Billy King and his staff had to revamp the roster if they wanted to start their first season in Brooklyn with a bang. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov was willing to dish out the cash and King took full advantage of his owner’s pledge.
The Nets made the biggest splash early in the offseason by trading for six time all-star Joe Johnson. The move sent a clear message to the team’s free agent superstar Deron Williams, the Nets are trying to win now. With Gerald Wallace already back on board, Williams would soon follow, resigning with the team for a max contract.
While King steadily pieced together the new and improved roster, Dwight Howard kept calling for a trade to Brooklyn. The Nets would not allow the superstar center to dictate its offseason. They resigned center Brook Lopez and then resigned his frontcourt mate Kris Humphries to a two year deal, all but ending the Howard to Brooklyn speculation. Howard’s trade to the Lakers slammed the door shut, at least for now.
The Nets starting lineup is arguably the most complete in the league, but King made sure to bolster the bench as well. MarShon Brooks, who had a stellar rookie season in a starting role, will be the first man off the bench. His offensive firepower will be key in leading the Nets second unit. Don’t be surprised to see Brooks in contention for Sixth Man of the Year. The Nets also signed 26-year old power forward Mirza Teletovic. Although a rookie, Teletovic has been a mainstay in Europe and will contribute right away. Coach Avery Johnson described him as a stretch four who can play inside and score from the perimeter. King made sure to bring in veterans to blend with the youth off the bench. The team traded for Reggie Evans, signed Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson.
Avery Johnson, who had tremendous success in Dallas and won a championship with the Spurs in his playing days, is the right man to lead this group. I think the Nets, who didn’t make the playoffs last year, will squeak by the Celtics and win the Atlantic Division. They could make a deep playoff run and I would not be surprised if they reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Projected Starting Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez.
Key Bench: C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans