I'm endeavoring to do a post for all 30 teams before the season starts on why if I were a fan of that team, I'd be excited and nervous. I'll talk about the great, the good, the bad, and oftentimes, the really ugly.
No sweep 'til Brooklynnnnn.
First off, sweet logo. Sweet new faux-weatherized steel arena. Even if the Nets remained terrible, fans will have a lot to be excited about in Brooklyn. The good news is the Nets probably won't be terrible. They'll almost surely be quite a bit better than they've been most of the past decade.
The real question is whether "better" will translate as "from bad to mediocre" or "from bad to a contender". Let's take stock of the pieces that have been assembled in Brooklyn. First and foremost, Deron Williams re-signed through 2016. DWill is obviously one of the league's top point guards even at $17M. (And who are we kidding, money is like toilet paper to Prokhorov). Statistically, Williams has not been nearly as efficient in terms of scoring since he left Utah (falling from 58.7% TS in 2011 to 52.7% in 2012), but much of that can probably be explained by his incredibly high usage. It was 30.1% last season, compared to his career 24% average. With the addition of Joe Johnson and a healthy Brook Lopez returning, Williams will not have to shoulder anywhere near that volume of scoring responsibility. His assist totals also dropped, but that is not surprising given the overall lack of talent surrounding him. I really don't have much question about DWill's offensive ability or productivity going forward. And I also don't question his defensive ability. He doesn't seem to have much. But that's a known quantity. Fortunately, this is another area where having Joe Johnson as a backcourt partner and Gerald Wallace at SF should alleviate some of the concern about Brooklyn's perimeter defense.
I already mentioned Joe Johnson, so let's get into it some more. Here's the thing about J.J. Expensive as hell contract, but like I said, cash might as well be toilet paper as far as Prokhorov is concerned. But aside from the expensive contract, Joe Johnson is a good basketball player. Not great, but definitely above average. His RAPM rating is +1.5, which makes him one of the top 5 or so shooting guards in the East. Johnson is an above-average scorer, and by that, I mean somewhat below average shooting efficiency that is made up for by quite a bit above average usage. He should get plenty of good looks playing with DWill, hopefully, more of them being of the 3-pt variety. I would be most concerned that it will be tough for J.J. to break the habit of taking tons of long 2's.
Quick aside...Did you know the CDC was located in Atlanta specifically to deal with the epidemic of long 2's that has plagued the town for so many years? And you thought they had zombie problems!
At small forward, the Nets brought back Gerald Wallace (at $10M per) through 2016. Gerald Wallace should now be able to focus on the role of being a defensive stopper. His defensive RAPM is +2.9, an extremely high rating for a small forward (for comparison, LeBron's is +1.8). Wallace is obviously known for his defense, but he's not a total zero on offense. His career 55.4% TS on 20.6% USG is very respectable. Wallace is also a very good rebounder, and with Brook Lopez getting major minutes at the 5, the Nets will need that skill, especially on the defensive glass. Moving to the front court, I begin to lose some confidence in this team.
The tandem of
Kim Kardashian's ex-husband or the guy who looks like a giant version of that douche who was always taking his shirt off in Twilight Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez does not instill fear in my heart. Humphries is basically a one-dimensional rebounder and Lopez is basically a one-dimensional scorer. Neither of these guys are great defenders, and Lopez is actually pretty bad on that end. How far can we expect a team get with these two guys playing major minutes?
Moving past the starting lineup, which overall, I'd say is above average but not world-beating, we need to consider the bench. The Nets brought in Reggie Evans. Lots of hustle and moving parts, but just not a very good basketball player in total. MarShon Brooks (The "S" is for inefficient shooting or scoring, take your pick) appears to be J.J.'s primary backup at SG. C.J. Watson and Tyshawn Taylor will do their best to spell DWill, but that's a huge drop-off in talent. Backing up Gerald Wallace is...Jerry Stackhouse? Seriously, he's still playing. And then there's Mirza Teletovic, who might be good, but could be terrible for all we know.
Look, the bottom line here is that if there are any major injuries in the starting lineup, this team is in trouble. The starters are going to have to play big minutes if Brooklyn intends to compete with the other elite teams in the East. Maybe it will all work out.
What you, as a Brooklyn Nets fan, should be really, really freakin' nervous about is...what the hell happens if it doesn't work out? I'm not even talking about injuries. That happens. I mean, what if everyone is healthy, and the team just isn't that good, or maybe it's mediocre. Maybe this is a 40 or 45 win team. What do you do then? You've got a huge payroll with multiple expensive long-term contracts on guys that are not all that young. Good luck trading Joe Johnson a second time, you know?
I'm hoping for the best for this team and for Brooklyn. My mom is actually from Brooklyn. It's good people. But man, I can only imagine if things go south, they will go south in a hurry. And it will get ugly. But cool unis for sure! Definitely on my wish list.