Last season: 38-44, 3rd, Atlantic Division (8th, Eastern Conference), Lost 4-2 to ATL in Quarterfinals
Notable Acquisitions: F/C Andrea Bargnani (free agent, NYK), G Donald Sloan (free agent, IND), F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona, 23rd overall; acquired via trade w/ POR), F/C Thomas Robinson (free agent, PHI), Shane Larkin (free agent, NYK), G Wayne Ellington (free agent, LAL), Quincy Miller (trade w/ DET), F/C Willie Reed (free agent)
Draft Picks: F Chris McCullough (Syracuse, 29th overall)
Notable Losses: G Deron Williams (DAL), C Mason Plumlee (POR), F Mirza Teletovic (PHX), G/F Alan Anderson (BKN)
Top DOG: Brook Lopez
Star UnderDOG (al-most star): Thaddeus Young
Salty DOGs (elder statesmen/aging stars): Jarrett Jack, Joe Johnson
Burning Question: Why should you watch a single Nets game all year long?
Honestly, you probably shouldn’t. Unless you’re the type of person who loves watching Brook Lopez “go to work” in the post or Joe Johnson shoot contested twos on the way to ugly victories, there isn’t much appeal.
BROOOOOOOK-LYN. BROOOOOOOK-LYN. Say it loud and proud right now because once the season starts, it’ll be a mere whisper. The 2015-16 campaign will be an exercise in futility to say the least. There’s really not much to play for, as the Boston Celtics own their 2016 1st-round pick outright (via the Kevin Garnett trade) and they are not close to challenging for a championship.
There is some belief that the subtraction of Deron Williams will magically turn the Nets into a happier, more cohesive unit. Well, maybe but does it translate to victories?
A super sub like Jarrett Jack is now delegated to full-time duties alongside a fragile core of Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Iso Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez. That starting five does not scare ANYONE on paper and if you look down the roster, who is capable of stepping up and making a difference?
Andrea Bargnani should add about 14 points/game, solid shooting and comic relief but he’s just as injury prone as the rest. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, acquired in a draft day trade with Portland, is a sticky defender but struggles to both create offense and cash open jumpers.
RHJ is more of a future investment but has a nice chance to earn minutes with his activity as a perimeter defender.
And Chris McCullough, Brooklyn’s own 1st-rounder (29th overall), is a raw, athletic forward who is coming off an ACL tear. He is expected to return sometime near the All-Star break.
Outside of those three, Donald Sloan (scoring guard, playmaker), Shane Larkin (playmaker), Wayne Ellington (shooter) and the rebounding duo of Thomas Robinson & Willie Reed are solid but might not produce enough so the starters can rest.
Johnson, Lopez, and Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn shelled out $110 million this summer to retain both Lopez & Young) are three key veterans who remain on the team and can squeak out victories.
But in an improved conference, 38 wins (which they achieved a year ago) won’t be enough for the final playoff spot. And even if they miraculously reach the postseason, this team this NOWHERE near equipped to make a run to the top.
By January, the writing will be on the wall…in bold and all caps: THIS TEAM CANNOT COMPETE RIGHT NOW OR IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
If GM Billy King can find takers for Joe Johnson and co., the Nets will bottom out. Though tanking obviously won’t yield a draft pick in 2016, Brooklyn can gear up for the future with young talent while shedding some dead weight in the process.
For the first time in many seasons, there is not much of a silver lining for owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets fans. The allure of a new arena, in a cool city, has faded, there is no lovable mixture of weird, yet talented veterans ready to take aim for the title, and there isn’t a single young talent on the roster who can be dubbed a future star.
Yeah, so how’s that five-year plan working out?
WHO We Like…Lionel Hollins.
Despite his roster, Coach Lionel Hollins usually maximizes the talent he has around him. A disciple of Dr. Jack Ramsay, Hollins’s grind it out style produced excellent results during his tenure in Memphis.
If the Nets have any shot at making the playoffs, it will be due to his ability to groom them into a defensive-minded squad (opponents avg. 100.9 points/game in ’14-15; 18th in the NBA).
What We Don’t Like…Transaction History.
Not only did the Nets fail to win it all with Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce a couple of seasons ago, they lost a few draft picks in the process. Brooklyn’s 1st-round picks, from 2016-2018, could ALL go to Boston.
How does that even happen!? With one playoff victory since their rebrand, contending looks as bleak as ever.
Brooklyn’s Best Case Scenario: The other 14 Eastern Conference teams mysteriously disband from the NBA, leaving the Nets as the only representative to challenge for the title.
Brooklyn’s Worst Case Scenario: Brooklyn is devastated by injury, finishes last in the conference, conveys a #1 overall pick to Boston and can’t find a way to secure young players in exchange for vets.
4th, Atlantic Division (14th, Eastern Conference), Will Miss Playoffs
“Okay move along, move along people, there’s nothing to see here!” – Officer Barbrady, South Park