The Nets sure do make things interesting. After losing to a depleted Bulls team in the first round, the Nets were labeled as soft. The team had no heart, no passion, no leadership. They did however need to find a way to live up to an owner’s promise of winning an NBA championship within five years. So the Nets did what any multi-billionaire would do in a situation like this – essentially buy heart, passion, and leadership.
By trading for KG and Paul Pierce, the Nets get two players that were the heart and soul of the great Celtics team that led them to a championship. Garnett is the key to this trade because he gives them something they need; someone to hold Brook Lopez and Deron Williams accountable for going through the motions. But will two stars past their prime really get the Nets to the top of the East?
Even after these trades, the Nets are still the fourth best team in the East behind the Pacers, Bulls, and Heat (sorry Knicks fans but you are fifth). The NBA is now all about creating difficult match ups where can you get an edge. The Heat won a title this year by playing small, but that is not a recipe that many teams can follow (not everyone has a player that can play all five positions better than anyone else on the planet). Because of this, teams try to beat them by going big like the Pacers and Bulls. When you compare rosters, the Nets are actually built to beat the Heat more than they are to beat the Pacers and Bulls.
When comparing the Pacers and Bulls to the new look Nets, they match up pretty well. Lopez would be guarded by Hibbert/ Noah, Garnett versus West/Boozer. And just like that, the Nets size advantage would be neutralized and their weaknesses quickly exposed. Their lack of athleticism would be a weakness versus Paul George, Butler, and Rose.
The Nets, however, would match up very well versus the Heat. Deron Williams (when focused) would absolutely destroy Chalmers to the point where Lebron or Battier would need to guard him. Wade versus Joe Johnson is an interesting matchup, but if Wade’s knees don’t hold up the advantage might go to Joe. Lebron James and Paul Pierce have been going at each other for years and even though James is the better player, Paul plays him hard and forces James to play both sides of the court.
Looking at rosters seems easy for fans, but the deciding factor might be coaching. Jason Kidd will have to coach against veteran coaches like Vogel, Thibs, and Spoestra. All three of these coaches have proven themselves in making adjustments and getting their teams to play hard. Can Kidd get a team that quit in last year’s playoffs to buy into his system? Does anyone even know what his system is? Will he focus on defense or play a fast paced offensive game? Hopefully for Net fans, the future Hall of Famer can get Deron Williams to play up to his potential; because if Williams plays like Williams of old – a player that many argued was a better point guard than Chris Paul – then the Nets can be scary good.
So are the Nets contenders? Yes they are, but many things will need to fall into place first.They will need to stay healthy because their bench is thin and the starters are not exactly young. Then, the team will need to gel in a hurry, something that is not easy. Coach Kidd (weird thing to say) will need to take control of the team and lead them. Not an easy task for a coach that has zero experience at any level of basketball. The biggest factor will be matchups in the playoffs. If they need to go through the Pacers and the Bulls, the Nets are in trouble. They might be the only team in the NBA that will want to play the Heat first.
Ruben Parga @RFParga82