With the NBA offseason activity beginning to wane heavily this week, albeit for a few signings still up in the air- Nikola Pekovic notably. And on the eve of the NFL and college football's annual takeover of all things media, I think it's finally time to make some predictions for the upcoming NBA season given that the majority of rosters are somewhere between working rough draft and fixed. Now before reading this column, I need you guys to realize a few things: 1) I'm making NBA predictions in JULY and literally ANYTHING can happen before the season to derail these predictions. 2) These are 100% serious. I am not here to troll or make fun of anybody. That would be churlish and a waste of time. 3) I encourage you to respond with how you feel about my predictions. So without further ado, I present to you a running column that will include a Fanpost for each and every NBA team, "The Flagrantly Early, Incredibly Half-Baked NBA Predictions Series."
No. 1: Nets can beat the Heat, but may not get the chance
The Brooklyn Nets will match up very well with the Miami Heat this year, and they'll get to show it 4 times this regular season. The Nets front court is packs such a big punch with Lopez, Garnett, Blatche, and Reggie "King of Rebounds" Evans in comparison to the Miami Heat's measly offering of Chris Bosh, Birdman Andersen, Joel Anthony, Greg Oden and the occasional LeBron James power forward cameo. It's going to be so easy for Brook Lopez to run train on them because frankly he runs train on everyone in the post. The Nets are going to demolish the Heat on the boards and can bang them harder than anyone else in the post. True, Paul Pierce is by no means able to guard LeBron, Battier can probably still lock Pierce or Andrei down, and Joe Johnson vs. Dwyane Wade play to a push. Yet, Deron Williams is far superior to either Super Mario or Norris Cole. If the Nets exploit their advantage in the front court and let Deron do his thing on the Heat's weak point guard rotation, it's easy to see them winning as they counteract LeBron for all he's worth. That's before we get to the part, where nearly every Nets player- especially KG and Pierce- absolutely loathe Miami.
However, there's a couple teams that could feasibly knock the Nets out of the playoffs should they match up. The Pacers are almost a younger version of the Nets with stars in their 20s not 30s. The Bulls with Derrick Rose are almost built to counteract the Nets with a strong defensive center and a couple of lockdown wing players. Though the Nets are better and ultimately more stable than the Knicks or Hawks or maybe even the Pistons, if old age catches up with some of the aging stars things could fall apart quick and the Nets could lose a cheap series. Though I do believe the Nets would be one of the few teams that can outmatch the Heat's wits in a 7 game series, it's hard to believe that they would even get the shot if the Heat snag the #1 seed again.
No. 2: The wheels will fall off this old wagon
Although their rookie coach, Jason Kidd, is young, the Nets roster is relatively old. KG is 37 in his 19th year; Paul Pierce will be 36; Joe Johnson is 32; Reggie Evans is 33; JET will be 36; Kirilenko will be 33. That's 6 of their top 9 rotation that are all so much more subject to breakdown and fluke injury after passing the 30 mark. Deron and Brook are firmly in their prime, but as it's been seen before if those are the Nets top 2 guys, the Nets aren't going the distance. Age really is the main crux of this year's Nets team, as there is a lot of hope going into next season. The Russian Billionaire really has consolidated a vast range of proven talents with no regard for the luxury tax. The problem is in what looks to be only a 2 year window with this core, they are one big injury or a couple bad breaks away from the wheels completely falling off. Hope it doesn't, but stranger things have happened than an old team breaking down physically as the long season wears on. Jason Kidd should know this better than anybody, fresh off of being that guy who wore down as the season winded down, yet in his first season juggling all the priorities of a head coach it's questionable whether he'll be able to successfully juggle any semblance minutes restriction.
No. 3: The Nets bench will be a game changer
Veteran teams with loads of experience and strong depth don't cede many winnable games in the regular season. For example, the Nets probably won't drop a game to the Milwaukee Bucks without an series of fluke plays, unlucky breaks, and impossible circumstance. It just doesn't happen because professionals always act like professionals in moments that call for professionalism and this Nets team is brimming with grown men who you've got to believe are going into this season with a high standard of focus and drive towards a title. There's no way Brooklyn, who can practically smell a title if things go right, are going to act up and throw their chances off.
Now a big part of the high projections for the Nets is that there bench is super strong this year. They can practically play two different lineups without overusing their aging stars and mixing the starters in with bench guys unnecessarily which ultimately will keep the KG and Paul Pierce fresh for the entirety of the season. Further if anybody does miss some games, there's an easy plug in at nearly every position. A second unit of Livingston, JET, the ultra sneaky-efficient Andrei Kirilenko, Reggie "Rebound King" Evans, and Andray Blatche who's apparently not a thug anymore, is better than most team's second units by a long shot. While the Nets starting 5 will be a big reason Brooklyn remains in the discussion all season, it will be the stout bench Billy King has constructed that makes sure they wins those games that they're supposed.