Why the new-look Brooklyn Nets are guaranteed to surprise

Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets. NBA.
Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Who is this Brooklyn Nets team?

From that night in February on, the Nets finished just a subpar 13-15, but many foreshadowed great potential under full chemistry and continuity.

Jacque Vaughn enters a fresh, first-full season with any surrounding uncertainty, with the team having a positive offseason. They subtracted the barren contracts of Joe Harris and the likes of Patty Mills, opening up cap space and keeping Brooklyn untaxed. The move helped retain Johnson, giving him his security-type salary and showing the Nets’ confidence in the duo’s ceiling.

General Manager Sean Marks has also brought in suitable pieces for the “Twins” tandem. Appropriate versatility to also accompany the team’s core of Spencer Dinwiddie, Nic Claxton, Dorian Finney-Smith, and the restless anticipation of Ben Simmons. Youthful, explosive, and thunderous athleticism in Lonnie Walker IV, Dariq Whitehead, Darius Bazley, and Dennis Smith Jr. They also added Trendon Watford in recent weeks.

2022-23 numbers (post-All-Star break):

24th OFFRTG: 112.6

13TH DEFRTG: 113.8

19TH NETRTG: -1.2

14TH AST/TO: 1.95

T-18TH AST RATIO: 18.3

26TH PTS: 111.8 PPG – 8TH 3PM 13.3 (20TH 3P%) – 30TH FG%

A full year of dynamic, athletic wings that can shoot and defend, led by the blossoming Bridges can fix a lot of those numbers. In his 27 contests, the 26-year-old put up 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, shooting 47.5% from the field and 37.6% from three. He is one of the premiere two-way players in this league known for never missing a game, and his month of March was stellar. Bridges put up 28.8 PPG with 49.8 FG/42.5 3P% splits, with a true shooting of 64.1%, giving flashes of an undoubtedly 2024 All-Star campaign.

Johnson also premiered some on-ball dominance. He averaged 16.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2 APG, and 1.4 STL, shooting north of 46% and 37% beyond the arc. At full durability, he is finally showing what he can do with more offensive opportunity, as his improvements were seen in Team USA exhibition play. The two create a new special companionship throughout the locker room in their new chapter as leaders, igniting a team of size and versatility on both ends through their development.