After somewhat surprisingly reaching a buyout agreement with former franchise cornerstone Deron Williams, the dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets followed up with long-term deals to both Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. The famous Borough then proceeded to overpay for a handful of misfit players in Andrea Bargnani, Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin. With Joe Johnson one year older and entering a contract year that quite possibly could end up with him bolting for nothing, it’s unclear as to which direction GM Billy King is steering the ship in.
The Nets, who were bounced in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, appear to have undergone an unorthodox rebuild. With the Nets’ unprotected first round picks through 2018 all belonging to Danny Ainge and the Celtics, tanking would be a useless route. On draft night, bright center Mason Plumlee was shipped to Portland in exchange for a package centered around rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who the Nets are said to be high on. As we inch closer and closer to opening night, the Nets’ projected roster looks to be an awkward mix of aging veterans and washed up all-stars and unproven prospects placing them in the dreaded middling pack.
Last year, the Brooklyn Nets finished with a passable record of 38-44 and many experts already have them pegged to drop out of the playoff race this year. However, many people forget that Brooklyn still does have the talent on paper to potentially sneak into the playoffs. Joe Johnson is a forgotten fourth quarter presence and Brook Lopez can be a low-post force when he’s on his game. With that being said, there are just way too many question marks and concerns that come from the organization and its players. While Brook Lopez played in a solid 72 games last year, his foot, which caused him to miss 150 games the three years prior, is still very injury-prone. While the Brooklyn Nets schedule is somewhat very kind, projected key players like Thomas Robinson and Andrea Bargnani have been bounced around from team to team for a vast number of on-court issues and there’s no telling which Joe Johnson you’re getting on a nightly basis.
Graphic via thebrooklyngame
The Nets finished 10-6 against their fellow division rivals, which is a mark they need to aim for again if they hope to replicate a similar low-seed standing. However with three of those Atlantic wins coming against the improved Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, it looks as if it’s an unlikely task as both of those teams have improved while the Nets have moved in the other direction. Brooklyn also struggled to take advantage of the lower level of talent that the east had to offer last season, finishing with a losing record of 24-28 in inter-conference play.
One must-see Brooklyn game comes against the storied Knicks and will take place on December 4th at 7PM. Though both of New York’s teams aren’t projected to be heavyweights in the Eastern Conference, the battle of the Big Apple is always an entertaining match-up. A second up-and-coming rivalry, which has heated up in the past couple of years, features reigning Atlantic division champion Toronto Raptors. Since Joe Johnson led Brooklyn past the young Raptors in the 2014 playoffs, the two teams have split an even 2-2. With the Raptors’ one year better and the Nets heading in a new direction, it will be interesting to see how the regular season series, which stands at 38-39 for Brooklyn all-time, will shape up.
Looking at the Brooklyn Nets schedule, it looks increasingly unlikely as though they will finish this season better than last year. This time around, there is a solid group of improved teams that have a legitimate shot at replacing Brooklyn this year. The powerhouse Miami Heat, Reggie Jackson led Detroit Pistons, revamped Charlotte Hornets and Indiana’s Paul George/Monta Ellis duo all have new looks and want to crack the top-8. The next few years are shaping up to be very obscure and bleak for Brooklyn basketball.
Graphic via fansided