Once again, NetsDaily is participating in the annual NBA previews, where bloggers around SB Nation and the rest of the web provide their take on their favorite teams. Tuesday is Nets day on the schedule, and NetsDaily's pegs has five key questions and answers regarding the first season in Brooklyn.
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
It seems every move the Nets made was a significant one - none more significant than the move the Brooklyn. This is the move that is supposed to transform the Nets from the joke that they were in New Jersey for the past few seasons into a respectable team that's serious about winning.
To start showing that they were serious about improving their team, they first traded for Joe Johnson in what was essentially a salary dump for the Hawks. This move proved pivotal in the Nets off-season, as it swayed Deron Williams to re-sign and was the first domino to fall in what has been seen as a successful summer by pundits and fans alike.
From there, they eventually re-signed the rest of their starting lineup - Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, and Kris Humphries - and built a formidable bench using exceptions, the draft, and the vet's minimum. Instead of past seasons, where they would overpay for middle-to-low-end talent, the Nets picked up players with actual skills to fill out the end of their bench - players that actually wanted to play for the Nets.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Obviously, its starting lineup is a big strength. If Lopez is as good as he was pre-injury, he'll be a part of a great inside-outside threat with Williams and Johnson. Wallace and Johnson, although getting up there in age, are still top defenders at their positions. Despite Lopez's weaknesses at rebounding, the rest of the team more than makes up for it, with Johnson, Wallace, and Humphries being top rebounders at their positions.
The bench could also be a strength. They've got some depth at all positions. Talent-wise, they have one of the best benches in the league, but it's up to players like MarShon Brooks, Josh Childress, and Andray Blatche to actually play to their potential. If everyone does and is used correctly by Avery Johnson, the bench could be scary good.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Interior defense is a big weakness. Lopez, Humphries, Teletovic, and Blatche are all below-average defensively in the middle. It's up to Avery Johnson to hide that weakness.
Another obvious one is the center position. Lopez has been injury-prone the past couple seasons, out all last season and playing with injuries the previous year. Blatche, while talented, has not yet lived up to his potential. Other than those two, nobody is taller than 6'9, which does not bode well if anything were to happen.
While talented, the bench could also prove to be a weakness. Call it the rookie wall, but Brooks was pretty bad at the end of last season. Blatche and Childress have had their issues the past few years, and ended up getting amnestied by their former teams. Teletovic, Tornike Shengelia, and Tyshawn Taylor are all rookies, although Teletovic is the only one expected to make an impact. If some of those players don't play up to their expectations, the bench could be the same glaring weakness it's been in past seasons.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Well, in most situations, a team coming off three awful seasons of 12-70, 24-58, and 22-44 would just like to make the playoffs. In my opinion, that's not the case here. The Nets made big moves this summer, regarding both their location and roster. They spent over $330 million on player contracts over the summer. With big spending, comes big expectations.
The goal for this team has to be to get to the Eastern Conference finals. I'd like to see a top-4 record, and at the very least, losing to the Miami Heat after they get past the first (or second) round. With the other teams in the Eastern Conference, nothing else seems acceptable.
5. With Gerald Green leaving the Nets for "greener" pastures, who will step up as the fan-favorite with the big plays?
I'm sure most people are thinking it has to be MarShon Brooks - and if he makes the jump he's expected to in his sophomore season, it very well could be - but I think a serious dark horse will be Mirza Teletovic.
Now, I've only seen Teletovic play in a couple Euro games and a lot of highlight films, but I like what I'm seeing so far. He seems like a player who isn't afraid to take the big shot. He's got some moves where he can create space and pull up from just about anywhere, and he isn't afraid to go inside once in a while. It will also help now that he is not the main scoring option, like he was on his Euro teams. That may give him a little more room to operate knowing the defense isn't focused on stopping him every game. He may not be a lights-out shooter, but I think he can bring some excitement off the bench, similar to the way Drazen Petrovic and Keith Van Horn did as starters.
- Brooklyn Nets offseason review: How much will Joe Johnson help? - Mike Prada - SBNation
- NBA Festivus: The birth of the Brooklyn Nets - Tom Ziller - SBNation
- The very best and very worst from a very weird NBA offseason - Tom Ziller - SBNation