October 29, 2013
#1 - Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets earn my highest offseason grade for the 2013-2014 NBA season. Since the trade went down this summer, sending Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and Kevin Garnett from Boston to Brooklyn in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three future first-round draft picks, I've been adamant and outspoken on radio airwaves, my Spreecast channel, and this blog, that Brooklyn just acquired themselves the best starting five in the NBA on paper and undisputedly the biggest threat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Adding the veteran presence, competitive grit, and championship experience of Pierce, Garnett, and Terry with a young, talented core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez is significant because we know the kind of impact those guys bring to the table. It's why Williams alluded to the energy being better after just one practice with his new teammates earlier this month. When I look at the starting five of Williams-Johnson-Pierce-Garnett-Lopez, I see the potential for a productive shot every offensive possession. All five players are highly capable scoring options. With Jason Terry comes that necessary spark plug off the bench, along with fellow new signee Andrei Kirilenko, a willing and experienced defensive presence.
Even more so than Jason Kidd, who was hired in June before the blockbuster trade, the hiring of Lawrence Frank as an assistant was likely the most notable staff addition. Frank not only coached Kidd in New Jersey, but coached Pierce and Garnett under Doc Rivers in Boston. His defensive mind is established and he brings a dose of familiarity. Still, I recognize the challenge for Kidd to make this thing mesh right away. Aside from adjusting to his first year as a head coach, leading and directing players he competed against just last season, it's up to Kidd to rally this group under sound offensive and defensive principles. Nonetheless, I feel strongly that factors of individual talent, depth in the front court, more scoring options, and now some championship experience should make the Brooklyn Nets the most viable candidate to dethrone the two-time defending champs.
- Martin S. @marley_mcfly