With training camp right around the corner, Hardwood Houdini is excited to get back to work for another wonderful basketball season. To warm you up to the season’s return, the staff will be previewing the Atlantic Division. We’ve already done the Boston Celtics. Next team up: Brooklyn Nets
Most impactful player on the Nets this season?
Mike Sykes: I’m going to go with Deron Williams here. Even with his ankle injury, he’s still going to be their best player on the team. And, more importantly, he’s their point guard. It’s his role to make the team work together in unison and keep them on the same page at all times. If he’s bad, they are bad. If he’s good, they are good. Williams has to perform at his best if they want a shot to take out the Miami Heat this season.
Trey Adell: Im going with Brook Lopez. He led the Nets in PER—take that with a grain of salt—and I feel like he’s their most effective scorer. His rebounding isn’t great for a center but he’s a very skilled big on offense. Playing alongside Garnett has the potential to really help his value on defense, as well.
What player on the Nets will overachieve this season?
Sykes: I’ll go with Kevin Garnett—particularly on the offensive end. Garnett’s game for the last two or three years has been of the pick and pop variety. He and Rondo worked pretty well together and I don’t really expect too much of a drop off once he gets on the court with Deron Williams. I think that Garnett will find himself with a lot more opportunity because he’ll be playing next to Brook Lopez and looks are going to come easier for him.
Adell: Andrei Kirilenko. Last season AK47 was a more than so contributor on a lottery team and is still a very useful player on a contender or playoff team. Being one of my favorite players in the league it will be nice to see Kirilenko back on a playoff team
What player on the Nets will underachieve this season?
Sykes: I’ll go with Andre Kirilenko here. I don’t think that his addition was as much of a necessity as it has been made out to be. Sure, he’ll be good defensively but I think that when he’s left on the floor for long periods of time he’ll become a liability on the offensive end. I think that he’ll be expected to shoot a lot more with Garnett and Lopez in the paint. The slashing lanes for Kirilekno to dive through are going to be scarce and he’ll struggle to make an impact on the offensive end. I doubt that he’ll be used heavily.
Adell: Joe Johnson. The addition of Paul Pierce and AK47 lowers his role on the team kind of making him redundant. I respect Johnson and his game but he’s a one dimensional wing on a team that just added two multi-faceted wings. I still think he’ll end up getting the most minutes out of the three but his contributions won’t have the same impact as before.
What impact will Kevin Garnett have on the Nets defense?
Sykes: Garnett is going to take the Nets defense to the next level. With Brook Lopez already in the fold as a decent rim protector and a great box out player, it’ll be easier for Garnett to have an impact on the defensive end of the floor. Garnett’s ability to guard in space and protect the rim are going to be pivotal, but any mistake that he makes will easily be covered by the personnel around him. He’ll have a great year defensively and could be the piece that catapults the Nets to the Conference Finals.
Can Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez work together?
Sykes: Though they have two extremely different personality types, Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett should be able to work in unison really well. Garnett brings most of the defense to the floor and Lopez will provide the offensive punch inside and out. They’ll be able to do a lot of hi-lo action with these two on the floor because they’re both pretty good passers. I think it’s just a question of having good chemistry and being on the same page at this point.
Adell: I don’t see why not from a basketball perspective, off court there might be some problems with clashing personalities but I feel that their games complement each other quite well.
How will the Nets season finish?
Sykes: I give the Nets a 55-27 record and they’ll end up winning the Atlantic division. They’re probably going to be a very good team defensively with the additions of Garnett and Paul Pierce. They have plenty of depth if they run into injury, and Deron Williams has more firepower than ever to work with. I think they’ll make it to the Conference Finals and lose there. I’m not sure if that is a success in their Mikhail Prokhorov’s eyes, but that’s a pretty damn good season.
Adell: Being the only team that made significant changes over the offseason and adding huge value to the team with Pierce and Garnett, I see them as the preseason favorites to win the Atlantic Division. Deron Williams, if healthy, is still a top point guard-when he wants to be– and Brook Lopez is still one of the best young centers in the league. Their ceiling is probably the 3rd seed in the East but it’s more likely they finish 4th.