Culture of Hoops

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: Brooklyn Nets

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Baller Mind Frame is collaborating with SB Nation’s NBA Previews! Look out for links for every team from some of the best blogs out there that SB Nation offers. This first part are questions put forth by SB Nation:

Last Year’s Record: 49-33
Key Losses: Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Jerry Stackhouse
Key Additions: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Shaun Livingston, Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson, Mason Plumlee and the hearts of an ever-growing amount New Yorkers

1. What Significant Moves were made during the offseason?
Obviously the additions of Garnett, Pierce and Terry in a trade with the Boston Celtics. Add the ridiculous contract value on veterans, Kirilenko and Livingston… well, damn. Championship pedigree, credibility, the ability to produce and, most importantly, the heart of a champion from the crew joining Brooklyn are some big things. The ability of these veterans to then pass on wisdom that we can only hope will stick passed their presence on the team to young players like Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Toko Shengalia and Tyshawn Taylor? BONUS!

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
No question, it’s depth. Each starter has a quality back-up and there is a good mixture of skill set that could make this whole thing actually work. Bringing KG into the mix here will make it very easy for everyone to “buy-in” to the message of team, team, team and defense, defense, defense. These two things weren’t always flowing in the Nets’ blood last season, but it will this season. Just imagine a team that won 49 games last year comes back with a tremendous amount of added talent compared to those players leaving? Despite questions of chemistry, barring injury, 50 wins is seemingly a lock with the potential of 60. Oh, snap, did I just jinx it?

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The aforementioned chemistry issues, which is really a weakness here in the sense that it won’t happen, but rather when it will happen. The inexperience of Jason Kidd is also a concern, but perhaps not as much as one may think if he’s willing to learn and listen from his assistant coaches, which he seems perfectly willing to do. And, everyone will bring this up – age. The team is comprised together to win now with a window that extends with this current team to probably next season, if Pierce re-signs and hopefully Kirilenko takes his option. Age isn’t as much of a factor when you consider the average age of the Maimi Heat when they won back-to-back titles; average age was 89 because of Juwan Howard’s 329-year-old presence.

4. What are the goals for this team?
Championship, plain and simple. If you asked Kevin Garnett this question to his face, he’d just give you a look that said, “Like you don’t know, dummy?”

Check out SB Nation blog, NetsDaily’s Nets season preview.

Now on to the Baller Mind Frame portion of the Brooklyn Nets preview:

Most Important Player: Kevin Garnett
I really wanted to say Deron Williams here because he’s a very valid choice being the established star for the Nets from the beginning of this whole Brooklyn transition. However, as important as it is for him to learn to be a leader and be the ultimate professional, D-Will needs to learn that from somebody. Enter Garnett who is the heart of the team every single season of his career. He’s intense, emotional, puts in the work and always focuses on the team concept. Garnett will be the touchstone of the proverbial blood, sweat and tears for this Brooklyn squad. Hopefully, everyone not named Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, knows to clean out their ears and listen when KG speaks.

X-Factor: Jason Kidd
The evolution of Kidd begins quickly as the stage of being a player goes to the stage of being a head coach. Not even an assistant head coach, but the straight-up top dog. Kidd’s accolades as a point guard and leader of men on the floor is numerous and indubitable. However, his ability to translate his cerebral hardwood skills to the nuances of the Xs and Os from the bench will be very important to how the Nets end up doing. Luckily, he is surrounded by a great staff of coaches led by former Nets and Detroit Pistons head coach, Lawrence Frank, known for his acumen on defense. John Welch was a long-time assistant with George Karl and will bring some offensive know-how and Roy Rogers was Brook Lopez’s first big man coach and should maximize Lopez’s development, a key factor in this season and future seasons’ successes. Joe Prunty brings three NBA championship rings to the Nets from the San Antonio Spurs and is a long-time coach. Kidd will definitely have resources and will need to make sure he uses them.

Rotations: The starting five will be Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Lopez. All of them have been NBA All-Stars recently and are, arguably, the best starting five in the NBA. At least that’s what Mikhail Prokhorov and his money is hoping for! However, it’s not really the starters’ salaries that are essentially having Prokhorov paying record amounts in luxury taxes, but it’s the players coming off the pine. Are they really worth it? Jason Terry is a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Andrei Kirilenko is a future Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (remember it’s not the NBA Hall of Fame and Kirilenko’s exploits in Russia will get him in), Andray Blatche is an excellent value who also happens to be straight cashing checks from another team. Arguably, the Nets may have the best eight-man rotation when you think about it. Add the scoring punch of Alan Anderson, rebounding prowess of Reggie Evans, steady playmaking of Shaun Livingston, shooting ability (that as of yet hasn’t been imported to the NBA) from Mirza Teletovic and the youth and promise of Tyshaun Taylor, Tornike Shengalia and Mason Plumlee, and there you have a solid mixture of players. But, again, can Jason Kidd step up as a coach to make all of this work?

What Needs To Go Right: What always needs to go right for every single NBA team – no injuries. So, with that as a given, I’ll add that the Nets will need to find chemistry the way the Boston Celtics did when KG and Ray Allen came over, joining Pierce in winning an NBA title their first year as a Big Three. Also, a loss of ego would do wonders, but that isn’t so much of a concern since one of the problems last season was a lack of anyone trying to be “the man.” Sure, Johnson hit a ton of clutch shots and was somewhere at the very top in the league in those categories, but there didn’t seem to be any fire. Well, an inferno is coming in Garnett and hopefully no one thinks of dampening the heat (the Heat?), both for the Nets’ sake and whoever the dampener may be.

It’s Really Bad If: Pierce and Garnett show their “basketball age.” Both have been in the league a long, long, long time. Breakdowns are inevitable at this point, so protecting against said breakdowns will be important. And Kidd showing about as much skill in coaching as I do in juggling several knives at once would be a bad thing. Very bad.

Bold Prediction: The Brooklyn Nets will battle hard with the Miami Heat and actually come out representing the Eastern Conference. However, how drained they will be to continue to perform at a high level will be up for debate. But, we’re being bold, so… the Brooklyn Nets, 2013-14 NBA Champions!


Alan Anderson, SG
Strengths: Knows his role. Can shoot and pass.
Weaknesses: Bit of a ball hog. Can defend when he wants to… when he wants to.
Season Prediction: He’ll provide some scoring punch form the pine, which is something that the Nets didn’t always have last season. The fact that it’s coming from the 9th or 10th man is unfathomable.

Andray Blatche, PF/C
Strengths: Versatile skill set. An excellent talent.
Weaknesses: Needs motivation to perform well. Last season it was sticking it to the Washington Wizards who amnestied him. This season, it should be the likely chance to contend for a ring. But, Blatche’s history suggests enigma.
Season Prediction: Garnett gets him in line and Blatche does extremely well as a back-up at the 4 and 5 spots. He’s one of the main cogs off the bench and won’t disappoint.

Reggie Evans, PF
Strengths: Grabbing balls. Rebounds, silly.
Weaknesses: Zero offensive skill other than putbacks.
Season Prediction: Thankfully, he won’t be a starter any longer because his presence automatically had his defender double-teaming off him. However, he’s an efficient rebounder and should produce well in limited minutes.

Kevin Garnett, PF/C
Strengths: Leadership. Intensity. Ability to hit from the perimeter. Still a great help defender. Oh, and leadership and intensity.
Weaknesses: An older gentleman in terms of NBA playing years.
Season Prediction: Garnett will jabber about playing every single game this season, but the coaching staff will ignore him. He should play about 65 games, however, and do very well. And, the coaching staff will give in a bit and let him play parts of games, so 70 is possible.

Joe Johnson, SG/SF
Strengths: Clutch. Isolation ability. Good passer. Outside J.
Weaknesses: Getting older and regressed a bit in his first year in Brooklyn.
Season Prediction: Now with less pressure to perform and the parameters of his contract coming to an end, Johnson will thrive playing with the cast of players around him.

Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF
Strengths: Can do a lot of things on the court. His defensive skills, however, is what will be most valuable to to team when playing against a team like the Miami Heat.
Weaknesses: A jack-of-all trades, master of none type.
Season Prediction: He’ll either be the sixth or seventh man, interchanging roles with Jason Terry. Come playoff time, Kirilenko will be a major part of trying to stop the other team’s top offensive threat.

Shaun Livingston, PG
Strengths: Court vision, height, passing ability.
Weaknesses: Three-point shooting. Or shooting, in general.
Season Prediction: Livingston will be the primary back-up for Williams. Livingston’s height will allow him to play alongside Williams, who will then be able to spot-up and create his own shot. Solid veteran presence who can speak to overcoming difficulty.

Brook Lopez, C
Strengths: Offense. Coachable and willing to learn. Improved strength and physique.
Weaknesses: Rebounding is the easy answer, but he’s actually more efficient than Evans. However, having to help out on defense didn’t help his relatively low boarding numbers. So, instead, I’ll say his speaking skills. Umm…
Season Prediction: Will become a much better defender and rebounder with KG next to him. The NBA All-Star Game is a possibility still.

Paul Pierce, SF
Strengths: One of the best shooters with the game on the line. No fear. Seems to still be able to perform at a very good level.
Weaknesses: Might think he could do more than he actually could. Getting up there in years.
Season Prediction: Pierce will get his share of rest, but probably not as much as KG. Pierce will feel a rejuvenation of sorts and will excel in Brooklyn.

Mason Plumlee, PF
Strengths: Tall and athletic.
Weaknesses: Inexperience, being a rookie.
Season Prediction: Garbage time will be Plumlee time.

Tornike Shengalia, SF
Strengths: Athletic. Ability to do a lot of nice things on offense.
Weaknesses: Not enough burn for Toko, so still a bit of an unknown, but has looked comfortable when on the court. However, still not enough of a sample size to say with certainty Shengalia can be successful in the NBA.
Season Prediction: He’ll play during blowouts, but should get a little bit more of a look since the Nets will likely want to limit Pierce’s minutes.

Tyshawn Taylor, PG
Strengths: Quick. Can do very well given time on the court.
Weaknesses: Won’t get said given time. Can be erratic at times.
Season Prediction: Yet another member of the youth group with the Nets that will have to warm up the bench.

Mirza Teletovic, SF/PF
Strengths: Shooter. Excellent European pedigree.
Weaknesses: Seemed to tighten up at times last season. Still needs to get acclimated to the speed of the game.
Season Prediction: Teletovic adds a lot of depth to the bench and should lead that second wave of reserves coming into the game.

Jason Terry, PG/SG
Strengths: Loves to shoot the ball and can hit it. No fear. Scorer.
Weaknesses: Age, loss of a step.
Season Prediction: He’ll be a sleeper candidate for NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

Deron Williams, PG
Strengths: Ability to score. Hit three-pointers. Attack the rim. Set up teammates.
Weaknesses: Difficulty hanging with the faster point guards. Some may question his leadership abilty.
Season Prediction: He’ll be a fringe MVP candidate and will work with the veterans on the team, as well as Jason Kidd in order to succeed.

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