Short answer: probably.
The Brooklyn Nets big trade did exactly what they wanted to do, that is add big name talent and shed Gerald Wallace’s awful contract, but did it help the team?
Feb 19, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) talks with forward Kevin Garnett (5) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 97-90. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe, but a lot of things will have to change in order to make this revamped roster work. Nets’ GM Billy King and his staff forgot one major fact of basketball while conducting this blockbuster trade: there can only be one basketball on the court at a time.
The Nets’ starting lineup will presumably be Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez. This may sound like five all-stars sharing the court together, so what could possibly go wrong?
Here’s the thing, Williams, while an excellent point guard one-on-one, has never been the pass-first guard a team like this needs. New head coach Jason Kidd could make this work in his prime, but Williams is a completely different player, and far less well rounded. Williams is often an isolation player, who needs the ball in his hands to be effective. This would be fine, if the Nets weren’t also counting on Iso-Joe, who has made a career of isolating himself with the ball, as well as Pierce, who has always been a scoring wing.
While all excellent players, none have excelled off the ball and need the ball in their hands to be effective. Garnett is actually the only player in the starting lineup who can truly fit in because even Lopez needs to get the ball in the post and have time to work down low. Kidd has his work cut out for him, and who knows if he can teach players who have made their careers with the ball in their hands to let it go.
The Nets also lose Wallace, and while his contract was one of the worst in the league (Johnson’s is arguably THE worst), he was also the team’s best wing defender. Pierce can no longer defend like he could in his youth and Johnson has never been known for his defense, so who defends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, etc? The team lacks defensive versatility and got older by adding the two future Hall of Famers.
In addition to that the Nets lost MarShon Brooks. Brooks didn’t get much playing time last year under Avery Johnson, but P.J. Carlismo allowed him a little more freedom. Brooks is young and cheap weapon off the bench who can provide instant offense. The Nets will need to find some fire power on their bench or risk a big drop off from the starting lineup. Jason Terry proved last season that he isn’t the player he once was, and an even bigger drop off could be in the cards this season for the former sixth man of the year.
The Nets are no doubt the second best team in the Atlantic, but what have they done to improve their chances of overtaking the Knicks?
The Nets got older and less athletic, those were the two areas in which they had the upper hand over the Knicks last season. The Nets could challenge the Knicks with a firepower offense, but their lack of speed suggests that they will be running a half-court offense, which is the same type that the Knicks excel at defending.
The Nets’ blockbuster trade may seem to have greatly improved the team on the surface, but it’s unlikely to catapult them too far. The addition of the two all-star players will secure the lesser borough’s team a top five spot in the East, but it’s not enough to make them the top team in the Atlantic.