Stephen Loftus suggests that improvements are needed for the Brooklyn Nets if they are to vault into top tier of Eastern Conference.
2013-2014 record – 44-38
Key player – Brook Lopez
Off-season Acquistions – Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic
It was a tough year last year for the Nets and perhaps another one beckons after Paul Pierce defected to the Washington Wizards coupled with the continued regression of point guard Deron Williams. They struggled to a series victory over Toronto in the first round of the play-offs and then were comfortably beaten by Miami a week later. New coach Lionel Hollins has a mountain to climb to bring the Nets to the top of the pile in the Eastern conference.
Big-spending owner Mikhail Prokorhov has long desired for this team to progress through the Eastern Conference but with this current crop of talent, the Nets have fallen down the rankings and are in a fight just to make the play-offs. Long-standing injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have plagued the Nets who struggled to replace the powerful presence of Lopez in the front court. The signing of Jarrett Jack could prove a shrewd move but the Nets still lack a tough,rugged player who can compliment Lopez, especially with Kevin Garnett now 38 years of age.
Outside shooting should not be a problem for Brooklyn with top scorer Joe Johnson teamed with the three-point snipers Mirza Teletovic, Jarrett Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic. They now face a battle with their neighbours and fellow Eastern Conference foes, the New York Knicks for a spot in the play-offs.
Neither of these should trouble the prominent teams in the East, namely the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers but at least the Nets can feast on the lesser lights of the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn has the ability to progress past the first round of the play-offs but their lack of a winning mentality might be their downfall when the tough questions are asked.
2014/2015 prediction – The Nets must finish in the top 6 in the East otherwise a first round exit beckons.
Stephen Loftus, Pundit Arena.