NBA Atlantic Division Preview: Shake Up At The Top

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3. Brooklyn Nets

May 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett (2) reacts during the second half in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 96-94. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Once thought to be one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets severely underachieved last season. Most people with common sense knew that the Nets wouldn’t compete for an NBA title last year; they were simply too old and relying heavily on injury prone players.

Brooklyn still has a great core of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, but after that, they are running thin. Brook Lopez when healthy is a great post presence for them, but will that ever happen? The seven footer played just 5 games in ’11-’12 and only 17 last year with a recurring foot injury. Problems with your lower body are never good for big men. Just ask Yao Ming and Sam Bowie.

Williams had his numbers take a big hit last year with the addition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The veteran point guard only averaged 14.3 points and 6.1 assists, well below his career marks of 17.4 points and 8.7 assists. Can Williams have the bounce back season? My guess is yes because now that Pierce is gone, there will be more offensive opportunities for him.

The Nets run into problems up front if Lopez is not healthy. Garnett has transformed from the “big ticket” to the “big fossil” quickly, and simply can’t play anywhere near the level he used to. The one promising player the Nets have is second year forward/center Mason Plumlee. Although he won’t fill up the stat sheet, the Duke alum will bring energy and intensity on the defensive end of the floor and rebounding the basketball. Look for him to take a huge step forward this season, but don’t expect much other than a dunk on the offensive end of the floor.

Losing Jason Kidd has its pros and cons. The bad news is, they will need to learn a whole new system just as they were getting comfortable with Kidd’s. The good news is, the Nets replaced him a very good, experienced head coach in Lionel Hollins.

At the end of the day, the Nets don’t have the depth they used to, nor are they young or quick enough to compete with the likes of the Raptors and Knicks.

Key Additions: Lionel Hollins, Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic

Key Losses: Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd