By Julian Encarnacion (RUTGERS-NEWARK THE OBSERVER) @hulyan
This year will be different. The Nets have suddenly become the it team of the metropolitan area. As many know the only thing New Jersey about the Nets this year will be the brand new uniforms that’ll be released this Friday. This season marks the first year the Nets will call Brooklyn home.
There is a new city, new jerseys, a brand new billion-dollar arena, but more importantly a new team that has a chance to win every night. Over the summer, second year guard MarShon Brooks was the only player on the Nets roster that was not re-signed, traded, newly signed or drafted. That means General Manager, Billy King, acquired nine new players and re-signed five from last season. This Nets team is arguably the best talent wise from 1-15 in franchise history.
It all starts with the re-signing of All-Star and franchise point guard Deron Williams. Williams is a top five talent at his position, fully capable of putting up 20 points and 10 assists on a nightly basis. Pair him up with Joe Johnson, an National Basketball Association All-Star every year since 2007, and you get "Brooklyn’s Backcourt." This 1-2 tandem is perhaps the best starting backcourt in the league today behind only the Los Angeles Lakers duo of former MVPs Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.
The Nets frontcourt, while not as heralded as it’s backcourt, has potential to be very solid this year. If Brook Lopez can fully recover from a season plagued by injuries, the Nets will have a great option inthe low post. Lopez, a 7-foot player, averages close to 20 points a game in three of his four NBA seasons at the age of 24. Throw in a jack-of-all-trades forward in Gerald Wallace, along with power forward Kris Humphries who finished in the top five in rebounding last season,you get a acceptable starting lineup. If you’re not convinced let’s take a look at the starting lineup just two years ago in 2010:
PG: Devin Harris
SG: Anthony Morrow
SF: Travis Outlaw
C: Brook Lopez
Better yet here is the starting line up from the last game of last year that reads more like a minor league team than it does an NBA.
PG: Sundiata Gaines
SF: MarShon Brooks
PF: Gerald Green
Brooklyn’s bench this year is a lot deeper than most think. After a respectable rookie year, MarShon Brooks is looking to breakout in hopes of winning Sixth Man of the Year. Brooks scored a recording tying 34 points against the Indiana Pacers on the last day of the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Mirza Teletovic proved to be one of the best players in Europe shot 44.9 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from behind the arc during the Eurobasket Qualifying Tournament. Point guardC.J. Watson averaged almost 10 points last season while filling in for the Bulls’ Derrick Rose. When given minutes, forward Reggie Evans has shown to be one of the league’s best rebounders.
How high is the Nets’ ceiling this season? There’s no definite way of telling, but playoffs cannot be too farfetched an idea. Of the eight teams in the Eastern Conference that made the playoffs last season, two in particular have fallen off. Atlanta and Orlando have begun the rebuilding process by trading their star players, Joe Johnson and Dwight Howard, respectively. In addition with Derrick Rose out for the early portion of the season with a tornanterior cruciate ligament (ACL) should help the Nets in initial positioning. Of the remaining teams in the Eastern Conference, the only other team to have made significant improvements is the Philadelphia 76ers.
Offseason Prediction: 50-32