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Brooklyn Nets are forgetting about last season; still believe they can compete

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Last season it was all about winning. With All Stars galore on the roster, the Nets were expected to compete for the NBA Championship. However, that became a pipe dream very quickly and the Nets finished far off of their goal. This season is different.

Andrei Kirilenko told Stefan Bondy of the Daily News that the team is not distracted as much as last season. "I think this year, like I said, a more working atmosphere," Kirilenko said. "People understand, it's not going to be easy. … We kind of forgot (last season) about slow steps, you know, like those preparation steps. That's why the first couple of months were kind of messy."

As Bondy notes, there is no more media circus at the Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, no more trash talking the team's cross-river rival, the Knicks, and not as much focus on the new head coach. "There were a lot of distractions last year," Kirilenko added.

The Nets are not boasting about being title contenders, yet they still believe they can contend.

Brooklyn has retooled their roster once again with complementary pieces including Jarrett Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic, and will definitely have to adapt to yet another new roster, but the team still believes they can attain the championship. Joe Johnson was confident the Nets can still be an elite team. "I still believe we're in contention to win the title," Johnson said on Media Day. "With a healthy Deron Williams, a healthy Brook Lopez, I think the sky's the limit for us."

On Tuesday, he reiterated that.  “For us as players, for us as an organization, that [feeling] should never change,” Johnson said. “We should still have that championship feel, or feel that we’re in contention, and I think that we are."

It also helps that key members of the club believe that the East can be theirs for the taking, Deron Williams being one of them. "I mean, I think it's wide open...I feel like we can compete in the East. It’s kind of there for the taking," the point guard said on media day. Coach Lionel Hollins added to that after practice Tuesday.

"I said this at the press conference [on media day], who says the East isn’t very good?" Hollins said Tuesday. "I’m looking at the East and I’m looking at some guys that are really playing and expected to do good this year. I mean, Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, those teams came on last year and so we can’t base it on what they’ve been in previous years. All we can go on is what I saw at the end of the year and in the playoffs. And those teams are gonna be strong next year and we’re hoping to be one of those teams in the mix and what happens in the West, we don’t know yet. I mean everybody finished their season, they were a different place and now they gotta start this year in the beginning, they’ve gotta stay healthy, they’ve gotta play well enough to win games."

Hollins is adamant on making sure the 2014-2015 Brooklyn Nets are not the same as the 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets. This is a different team with a different system that hopes to be more successful. As the head man said, "Yesterday is yesterday, I'm not thinking about that."

And if the ESPN Power Rankings weren't pessimistic enough, Westgate SuperBook posted its NBA season win totals Tuesday. The Nets, according to the Vegas sports book, are likely to win 41.5, one more than the Knicks.