Hello Brooklyn: Nets Ready For Season Of Lofty Expectations
Added by Matt Kardos on October 29, 2013.
After the franchise saw a renaissance to their identity last season with their much anticipated move to Brooklyn, the Nets organization emerged from the depths of mediocrity in the swamps of New Jersey into the marquee stage and bright lights of the Big Apple.
In their first season in the borough, the Nets returned to the playoffs; a place they had not ventured since Jason Kidd was at the wheel as the face of the organization nearly seven years ago. At that point, the Nets were a perennial facet of the postseason and even hoisted two Eastern Conference Championships during that time. When it was apparent the Nets were headed towards an all-out rebuilding stage, they traded away Kidd in 2007 and the remainder of the franchises relevance seemingly went with him.
Jason Kidd once helped the Nets to the NBA Finals as a player. He has been called on to do it again, this time as their Head Coach.
Kidd took the Nets to the playoffs every season he dawned their uniform from 2002-2007. They dealt him to Dallas and they did not see them again during the remainder of their stay in the Garden State.
After taking the franchise to it’s greatest peak, Kidd has been called upon once again to do the same thing he did a decade earlier for the Nets. After punctuating the final chapter of his Hall of Fame career as a player with the Knicks last season, Kidd is gracing the hardwood as a rookie and for the first time in a very long time will have his experience and knowledge questioned on a nightly basis as he takes over as Head Coach in Brooklyn.
As if the pressures of a first-year coach in the biggest media market in the world were not tall enough, Kidd has been handed a team that is assembled to win a championship with a window that may not extend much further beyond this season. General Manager Billy King went out and acquired two Hall of Fame talents from the Boston Celtics in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce along with tremendous rotation depth in Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Shaun Livingston and Allan Anderson.
When the Nets were defeated and ultimately eliminated by a bruised and battered Chicago Bulls team in the first round of the playoffs last spring, the team’s mental toughness was inevitably placed in doubt. Collapses both mentally and physically from their veteran players and then Head Coach Pj Carlesimo warranted drastic household changes that brought forth King’s summer shopping spree.
Jason Kidd will enter his first season as an NBA Head Coach with a roster stacked with veteran All-Stars and championship aspirations as grand as any.
In need of an intense and intimidating injection of toughness, King was able to acquire arguably the most fierce and ferocious leader the league has ever seen in Kevin Garnett. The name alone speaks volumes in a locker room as well as the sheer talent he brings to the floor. Though he is no longer the same elite scorer and interior defender that he was in his prime years, KG demands respect from his own team along with the opponents trying to defend him. Having been battle tested and marinated in playoff experience in Minnesota and Boston, Garnett brings to Brooklyn a change in culture; his presence goes far beyond the box score on a nightly basis because he will command nothing less than one-hundred percent effort on both ends of the floor.
Pierce like Garnett commands the ultimate respect for a multitude of reasons that go far beyond the court and his acquisition allows Kidd to parade out various lineups and matchup situations that could prove to give the league tons of fits. After spending his entire career in Boston, the Celtics dealt away their aging superstar to a winning situation much like the Nets did with Kidd and hope that they will relish the benefits of a motivated veteran looking for one final title to cap a Hall of Fame credentialed career.
Deron Williams, despite an offseason ankle injury, is entering the season in the best physical shape of his career and appears to have a swagger in his step for the first time since his days in Utah. Williams is the face of the franchise, that was evident when the Nets handed him the keys to the team and maxed him out last summer with the belief that they would eventually put a product on the court to win and win consistently. With those pieces finally in place, the scoring burden is no longer left on D-Will, who can now ease back and distribute the basketball to a superior scoring threat at both sports on either wing as well as both sports in the paint.
Joe Johnson was the Nets go-to scoring option in his first year with the team in 2012 and that still may very well remain the case in year two. Dubbed Broadway Joe for his last second heroics last season, Johnson proved to the league that his ability to knock down the jumpers with the game on the line is just one of many reasons to justify his highly scrutinized and criticized contract. Johnson like Pierce are both interchangeable pieces that can play the shooting guard or small forward position at any given time and could even move to the four should Kidd choose to go with a smaller lineup.
Perhaps no Net proved his worth more last season than Brook Lopez, who emerged as a dominant scoring presence in his All-Star campaign. In just a few weeks of training camp, KG has already anointed Lopez as the most talented big-man that he has ever played with and possesses room to grow from here. With the development of a slide step and baby hook that is nearly indefensible, Lopez is poised to have another dominant season in a lineup where opponents cannot afford to double-team him based upon the immense talent surrounding him at all times.
The Nets made a splash this summer to set themselves up for a run at the NBA title.
The defending champion Miami Heat are the class of the Eastern Conference but Brooklyn could serve as a tough matchup for Lebron & Co. when the playoffs approach. The Nets are equipped now more than ever with solid defenders on the wings in Pierce and Williams and have a huge size and toughness advantage down low in Garnett, Lopez, Blatche and Evans. You could certainly make a case that Brooklyn could match-up two players deep at every position on the floor on a nightly basis.
Questions surrounding chemistry and the teams ability to mesh together in a timely fashion are the biggest tests that Brooklyn will be forced to answer in the early part of the season. At one point or another, every player in the starting five has been “the man” at a juncture in their careers. With a premiere cast of stars now assembled, the ability to be selfless and sacrifice personal acclamation for the betterment of the team is going to be the difference in the Nets being just a bunch of hype or a team that has a serious shot at bringing a NBA title to Brooklyn. Opening-tip is tomorrow night in Cleveland, and with begins the clock on the Nets short window to win a title.