Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is five weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next five weeks. This week is the Atlantic Division. Today is the Brooklyn Nets.
2011-12 Record: 22-44
Key Losses: Gerald Green (signed with Indiana), Anthony Morrow (traded to Atlanta), Jordan Farmar (traded to Atlanta)
Key Acquisitions: Joe Johnson (trade from Atlanta), Reggie Evans (signed from L.A. Clippers), Andray Blatche (signed from Washington)
|Deron Williams||Joe Johnson||Gerald Wallace||Kris Humphries||Brook Lopez|
|Tyshawn Taylor||MarShon Brooks||Josh Childress||Reggie Evans||Andray Blatche|
|C.J. Watson||Keith Bogans||Tornike Shengelia||Mirza Teletovic|
Everything for this team and for this franchise is new. Completely and truly new.
New team. New stadium. New jerseys (pun!). New arena. New attitude.
The Brooklyn Nets are not the New Jersey Nets. Not in any way.
The Nets have a brand new attitude about them. It goes from the look to the roster and it is refreshing for a team that was always stuck in the New Jersey swamp and in the Knicks' shadows. Brooklyn's new team might still be in New York's shadow when it comes to basketball, but that gap is closing.
And in true Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov form, the Nets are not making their Big Apple debut without making some noise.
After failing to acquire Dwight Howard, the Nets ensured that they would be relevant for the first time since Jason Kidd was on the roster. They acquired the high-priced Joe Johnson, helping to persuade Deron Williams to stay and give the Nets a strong team for their re-debut season.
On the court, Brooklyn is not like the team that left New Jersey. This is a team with depth, some grit and some scoring punch. A complete 180 from the old days.
And that is exactly the point.
The Nets are much better. A Playoff team, in fact. There is little doubt that the team has the talent to accomplish those goals.
Is that enough for all the investment and buzz the Nets are trying to build? Will Prokhorov and the fans the franchise is trying to win over be happy with a simple Playoff appearance?
Undoubtedly, as a franchise, the Nets making the Playoffs is an expected and necessary step forward. But with the money the team has committed to Williams, Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace, this is the team the Nets will be riding with for the next two or three seasons. So this is the team that will have to deliver for the Nets.
There are still plenty of questions about this roster.
The Nets largely could not get Dwight Howard because the Magic were not sold on Brook Lopez. Lopez was out for most of last season, playing in only five games, and does not have a sterling rebounding record. Adding Reggie Evans and keeping Gerald Wallace should help Lopez on the glass, but Lopez is ultimately responsible for increasing his rebounding number. His career 16.7 defensive rebound rate is unacceptable for a center of his caliber without another strong rebounder next to him.
What the Nets can ultimately do will be determined by their ability to secure rebounds and limit their opponents to one shot opportunity per possession. And, ultiamtely, rebounds create easier opportunities for points. The Nets, with an array of offensive weapons that includes Lopez in the post, should be able to score plenty.
The Nets were willing to spend money this offseason to deliver a winner to the Barclays Center's first year. The question is whether it will hamper their growth moving forward.
Brooklyn now has the second highest payroll in the league with $85.5 million on the books for this year. Joe Johnson is due $89.3 million over the next four years, when he will be 35 years old. Brook Lopez received a max deal that will keep him locked up at around $15 million for the next three seasons.
In all, the Nets are going to be over the luxury tax line for the foreseeable future. The team has $77.9 million committed to the 2015 season. The core of Williams/Johnson/Lopez/Wallace is the team Brooklyn will rely on to win a championship.
No doubt that this is a very good team, but second highest payroll good? If the Nets are going to spend that kind of money, championship have to be the expectation and this team just does not have a championship feel to it yet.
Deron Williams admitted to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN new York that he was frustrated by the team's attitude toward losses last year. He took the losing a lot more personally than a lot of his teammates.
Williams said that mentality is gone. It is a new-look Nets team in every way. The hope is that the money will be well worth it.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Nets? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by using the hashtag #NetsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Nets throughout the day.