NBA Preview: Brooklyn Nets
30 teams, 30 days, and for my second team I will be sticking with the Atlantic division and doing the team that I realistically think could be the worst in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets. Last season, after finally realizing that signing everybody to expensive deals and trading the future for win-now moves of players past their prime, they took a major step back. They went 21-61, good for 14th out of 15 in the Eastern Conference, and third worst overall. What's even worse is the Boston Celtics held their top draft pick unconditionally at #3 overall, although they managed to find a way into the first round anyways. This year, the rebuild will go on, and it likely will for a while, and this could be the year the Nets bottom out.
ADDITIONS: PF Anthony Bennett (Toronto), PF Trevor Booker (Utah), G Randy Foye (Oklahoma City), C Justin Hamilton (International), G/F Joe Harris (Cleveland), PG Jeremy Lin (Charlotte), PF Luis Scola (Toronto), PG Greivis Vasquez (Milwaukee), SG Caris LeVert (draft), SG Isaiah Whitehead (draft) plus undrafted free agents including PG Yogi Ferrell
SUBTRACTIONS: PF Thaddeus Young (trade-Indiana), SG Wayne Ellington (Miami), PG Jarrett Jack (Atlanta), C Willie Reed (Miami), Markel Brown (Cleveland), Henry Sims (likely Utah), Andrea Bargnani (Europe), Shane Larkin (Europe), Sergey Karasev (Europe), Donald Sloan (China), Thomas Robinson (unsigned)
The biggest storylines of the Nets' offseason this year was not being able to pry away restricted free agents Allen Crabbe (Portland) and Tyler Johnson (Miami) from their respective teams. Brooklyn then went out in what seemed to be like a panic attack and grab guys like Trevor Booker, Luis Scola and Greivis Vasquez out of desperation. After failing to sign any young and/or promising players, the Nets are built around a (likely) unhappy Brook Lopez and no great up and coming players. LeVert and SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are likely to be quality role players, but neither of them should be the guy you build your future around. They are good guys to start with, but Brooklyn will need to make its' draft choices count in the near future if they want to be competitive before 2020.
PLAYER TO WATCH: G Sean Kilpatrick. It is unclear whether Kilpatrick will be the starter at shooting guard next to new addition Jeremy Lin next season, but in the 31 games he played last year he came off the bench and put in 11.1 PPG. For a guy who never really played in the NBA before, that is a pretty welcome boost for the Nets and he likely will play a big role this season. He does not really do much else but score, but he could wind up being a decent player. I remember he was a big time scorer in Cincinnati in his college days, and now he has that chance in the NBA. It's not like Randy Foye is going to stop him from getting playing time.
BIGGEST CONCERN: Where do we start? Outside of the fact that they are still recovering from trades made in between 2010-2015 that mortgaged their future, having the least talented roster in the NBA (and not by choice, like Philadelphia) or perhaps the owner might be willing to sell the team, I'll go with all of the above. Brooklyn's biggest concerns are everything.
BIGGEST UNKNOWN: Caris LeVert is the biggest unknown as a player, but the biggest unknown overall is what the rotation is going to look like. Outside of Lopez, Lin and likely Hollis-Jefferson, it is hard to predict who will be starting on this team, who will be playing on the bench, and who will even be playing at all. This roster is the definition of hodgepodge.
STARTING FIVE: C Brook Lopez, PF Luis Scola, SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SG Bojan Bogdanovic, PG Jeremy Lin
ROTATIONAL PIECES: F/C Trevor Booker, G Randy Foye, SG Sean Kilpatrick, PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Caris LeVert
ROUNDING OUT THE ROSTER: PF Chris McCullough, SG Isaiah Whitehead, SF Juan Valet, C Justin Hamilton, G/F Joe Harris
PREDICTION: Overall, a lot of these guys could be minor contributors on good teams, but without any go-to players this team should struggle most nights. Twenty wins could be a stretch for them this season, and it is time to be looking at the draft board for who will be number one overall in 2017.