The Brooklyn Nets had an offseason that left basketball experts and fans everywhere collectively scratching their heads. After buying out Deron Williams, lucrative contracts were handed out the Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, while Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were each acquired respectively.
Come opening night, Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack still remain the unquestioned leaders of this team. They will begin the season on October 28th at home, playing host to the new-look Chicago Bulls. This seems as if it will be an exciting premiere match-up due to multiple match-up showdowns. The unquestioned new leader of the Bulls, Jimmy Butler, will square off against the savvy and battle-tested Joe Johnson. At the same time, it will be interesting to see how things unfold in the low-post with the scrappy Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol duo taking on the recently extended Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. The 2014-2015 season saw the Chicago Bulls take the regular season series 3-1 and Brooklyn will look to change that this time around. Both teams are fighting to prove that they’re still relevant in the Eastern Conference after undergoing turmoil in the offseason.
Another storyline to follow if you’re a Nets fans will be the progression of Brook Lopez. The former Stanford University star appeared in 72 games last year, after missing 65 the previous year due to a recurring foot injury. He put up averages of 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and just under 2 blocks per game, which is a very promising sign going forward. If he can build on his latest campaign, the 27-year old has a chance to have a breakout year as he is set to be the undisputed focal point in Brooklyn’s offense for the first time. To achieve this, Lopez is going to need to establish himself as a dominant post player from the start of the season. This is easier said than done, as the three projected opening match-ups come against Joakim Noah, Tim Duncan and Marc Gasol. This should be Brook Lopez’s year for the Nets, as long as he remains in full health of course.
A major pitfall for Brooklyn’s lack of regular season and playoff success in recent years has been their inability to defend the ball, particularly on the perimeter. Head Coach Lionel Hollins has expressed his displeasure for his team’s efforts on the defensive end, as they finished 24th in overall defensive efficiency. The incompetence of containing the point of attack will be shaken up this year with the departure of Deron Williams. Jarrett Jack and Shane Larkin are looked at as an upgrade on that end of the ball, but Brooklyn’s issues goes far beyond just that. Lopez has developed into a reliable rim protector, but this cannot be said for any other big men on the Nets. With 12 of their 17 October/November games coming against opponents who appeared in the playoffs last season, the Brooklyn Nets have their work cut out for them. It will be an uphill battle, as 13 of these games will be played away from the Barclays Center.
Courtesy of Rant Sports