With all the hoopla surrounding the Miami Heat’s back-to-back championship season and the circus that was the Dwight Howard decision, many have forgotten the moves the Brooklyn Nets have made that make them serious contenders in the Eastern Conference. In a trade that involved the Nets and the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn received Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry while the Celtics received Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. For some, this seems like a lot to give up for just three players, two of which are Hall of Famers, but past their prime. Others believe that with this newly acquired talent to complement the already staggering talent they have, the Brooklyn Nets will be able to take down the Miami Heat and contend of an NBA title. Whatever the case may be, the Nets definitely have acquired some extraordinary talent, but there are some key question marks that cannot be overlooked and could cause problems down the road.
Although the Nets do have superior talent to most NBA teams, coaching still plays a large factor in the end result of a season. With that said, can rookie coach Jason Kidd handle this newfound pressure? Jason Kidd was a remarkable player, one of the best point guards to ever play the game and no doubt a Hall of Famer, but that’s all he has ever been, a player. Being a coach takes on a whole new responsibility, one that, in order to be successful, requires experience. He will take the reins of a high-profile team in a pressurized media market. Even as a rookie head coach who practically just stepped off the court as a player, Kidd will be expected to improve drastically upon last year’s first-round playoff exit. There will be extreme pressure for the Nets to not only be successful during the regular season, but to advance far into the playoffs with hopes of capturing a title. Yes, Kidd has former head coach Lawrence Frank, who spent many years as the Nets head coach while Kidd was on the team, as his top assistant, but at the end of the day Kidd will have to make the final call on everything regarding his team. And if he fails, he will have Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov to answer to.
Egos and Team Chemistry
The Brooklyn Nets will have four superstars in their starting lineup (sorry Brook Lopez, you’re not quite there yet). Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all have to play together on the same team, at the same time while trying to accomplish one goal: Put in the ball in the basket. This very simple goal could prove to be very difficult at times for the Nets. All four of these players are great; all four of the players can score the ball very effectively, consistently and at a very high rate. In order for the Nets to be effective, none of these players will have the opportunity to be the superstar of the team every night, which means their stats will suffer; all four of these players will take hit to their points scored per game. Can they all coexist on the floor at the same time and take a step back when one has a hot night or will their egos get in the way? If they can in fact coexist, they have the potential to be extremely dangerous and make a long run in the playoffs.
Another extremely important factor to the Nets success this coming season will be team chemistry. Aside from all the egos that will be present in that locker room, this will be a completely different team from last year and that means a new element of team chemistry. Can the team pull together, put all other personal goals aside like scoring titles and other individual recognition and focus on one main goal that the entire team wants: an NBA championship? With an entirely new coaching staff and new players that will play a very important role in the team’s success, good chemistry is vital to success. If the Nets can combine solid team chemistry will selflessness on the court, few teams will be able to challenge them.
While Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez are relatively young at 29, 32 and 25 years old, respectively, the Nets’ new additions, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are far from that. KG, at age 37, has left the days of “The Big Ticket” behind and has now become “The Ticket Stub.” He is old, slow and his production has declined steadily over the last five seasons. He is simply not the Kevin Garnett of old. Paul Pierce, at age 35, has visibly slowed down in the last few seasons and has shown very few sings of changing that pace. With Pierce turning 36 before the season starts, one has to wonder how many years of solid production he has left before he becomes an embarrassment. As a shell of his former self, Pierce simply is no longer the player who earned the nickname “The Truth.” With all that being said, both of these players have not run their last race and can provide the Nets with excellent play, provided they stay healthy. Time is not on Brooklyn’s side, however, if they plan on making a championship run, it had better be in the next two, maybe three seasons. KG and Paul Pierce do not have much time left in their Hall of Fame careers, so the Nets better get something going quickly or else Father Time wins.
The Brooklyn Nets have assembled a great team, one that has a chance to have great success. In order to achieve this success, however, these three concerns and question marks need to be addressed. If these issues are addressed, the Nets have the potential to be very dangerous to any team, including Miami, that stands in their way of their ultimate goal: Winning the title.