The other previews: Atlanta/Boston
Kevin Garnett (Trade), Paul Pierce (Trade), Jason “The Jet” Terry (Trade), Andrei Kirelenko (FA), Jason Kidd (Head Coach)
Gerald Wallace (Trade), MarShon Brooks (Trade)
Predicted Starting Five
It’s weird how the next team on the preview list after the Celitcs is the Brooklyn Nets. Don’t look at me. I didn’t plan it, the alphabet did. In any case, here we go.
There are two ways the Nets season can go this year. It could be a tale of success as father time look as graciously upon them this year as he did upon the Spurs last. Or it could be an entertaining train wreck that turns into a PPV boxing match between KG and Jason Kidd by the end of the season (the two already allegedly clashed before even playing one game).
This team is simply stacked from an offensive perspective. Look for them to slow everything down and spread the floor. Deron Williams has free reign of this offence to go along with the lack of the “clutch gene.” Even so, everyone here can knock down a jumper when open (and they should be open often) and the opponents really won’t be able to leak of anyone. The Nets will have more chances than any other team in the League to beat the opponents one-on-one.
The big question is how the new coach J-Kidd will manage the rotation. This team is deep and it has serviceable options off the bench, with Kirelenko looking to be the x-factor and proving defensive stability for the second unit. Even so, it’s clear that the 1st five is miles above anything Brooklyn can bring off the bench. For the Nets to even stand a shot at the title, they will need Pierce (35), Garnett (37), Joe (32) and Williams (29) to be healthy and rested for a deep playoff run.
On the defensive end, this team will be tough to score on inside. With Brook and KG manning the paint (and the extra advantage of Kirelenko and Reggie Evans off the bench), Nets will make things frustrating for almost everyone in the post, forcing teams to beat them on the outside. That could backfire however, as both JJ and The Truth have seen a decline in their defensive efforts. Expect to see more and more Andrei in tough match-ups like Miami and Indiana. With all of the weapons they have, it’s feasible they can sacrifice either Johnson or Pierce to have the Russian man up.
Who is really coaching this team?
Everyone wants to believe it’s Kidd, but I’m guessing a lot of the schemes they will be running many of Lawrence Frank’s schemes. The man is just more experienced and Kidd has to trust him from their time back in the day. Sure, Kidd is a good choice for the media and he is one of the best PGs of all time, but I just don’t see him pulling all of the strings for this Nets squad. Especially when Garnett and him are nearly the same age.
Does Anderi Kirelenko now own a small village somewhere in Russia?
Compare his contract this year with what he made from the Wolves last year. Much more manageable right? It’s hard for me not to believe that Prokhorov sweetened the deal somewhere just to get Andrei to join with the Vet Fab 5. I mean, the Nets are already bulging at the seams when it comes to Luxury Tax, so Prokhorov would take any little break. Even if that means a couple of hundred rural Russians swearing fealty to AK-47 (wouldn’t be the first time in the country’s history).
The favorite between games past time:
It’s a three way tie between sleep, reminiscing on the good old days and wild debauch.
The pack your bags prediction: No one. This team was built to last the whole season and so it will be. Bursting with new signings and acquisitions this is an experiment that will either succeed or fail with all of the current pieces in place.
The delicious expiring contract: Paul Pierce. The Truth makes just under $17-million in his final season on this contract. No one will ever give that kind of money to him again. If he was still in Boston those kinds of digits off the books would make him an attractive trade piece. In Brooklyn he is a key part that needs to produce.
Key Player: Kevin Garnet
For more reasons than just his contributions on the court. This team needs a leader and KG will become just that for them. This is his last shot and is not about to let LeBron, the Pacers or Jason Kidd get in the way of that.
The where did he come from prediction: No one.
The way this team is constructed there just isn’t a roster place for a young undiscovered talent.
Best sly fantasy pick up: None.
There are no sly picks here. This is a fantasy wasteland. The only player I would even consider off this Williams.
Best case scenario: It’s NBA Title or bust for the Brooklyn Nets. Have to love the ambition and they are built to take on the contenders. I’d love their chances if we went straight into the playoffs. As it stands, 82 games + Playoffs, you have to wonder about the durability.
Worst case scenario: The age gives and J-Kidd can’t bring this group together. They fall apart, sneak into the playoffs and fizz out in the first round.
Riggin’ for Wiggins Odds: 500:1
Prediction: 58-24, 4th in the East
Al Jefferson (FA), Cody Zeller (Draft)
Tyrus Thomas (Amnesty)
Predicted Starting Five
I am still mystified as to why the Bobcats would even consider singing Big Al. Sure, they needed a marquee signing to show some sort of statement of intent, but they could have waited until next year. However, even with Jefferson, the Bobcats are still a lottery team and the fans have to believe something will turn. Common Wiggins!
This will be a clash of two players on either end of the roster. Kemba Walker will naturally want to speed up the offense and play at a higher pace which has always suited his smaller frame. It’s harder for him to buckle up into sets. Big Al mean while will want the pace to crawl as he appropriates that left block for a good chunk of the season. I’d have to think that as a more experienced player and a proven big man, Al will win the battle of philosophies.
Short of Michael Jordan coming back for the Bobcats this season, there is very little pointing towards any kind of success. I do like the other piece of business they did by keeping Henderson who is a good wing defender and can give you stretch jumpers, but this team is just bare. Their starting line-up lacks any kind of range, and with Al now taking up all of that space, penetration baskets could be harder to come by. Kemba and Al will have a tough time gelling together through the season.
Off the bench, the team looks even worse. They have Ben Gordon and his contract coming in to provide some offensive consistency, but Ben Gordon and consistency haven’t been friends for about 3 years. Even so, he’s a great option to give you some offence just as long as he’s not in a starring role.
If anything, we can hope that Cody Zeller finds the form that had him pegged as a No. 1 overall pick a few years back. Other than that, this is going to be a team that is trying not to look terrible while being totally terrible. Big Al gives them an extra five wins, maybe. Don’t let this signing fool you however, they are still very much in the running for that one freshman from Kansas.
Do the Bobcats actually want to get better?
Who knows? It’s tough to be an expansion franchise in the League. Even so, they’ve been really bad for quite some time now. Singing Big Al was a knee-jerk reaction to that kind of criticism. I don’t know if they want to be good, but I do know they won’t be good this year. Maybe, just maybe, next year’s studded draft will answer this question.
Does Michael Jordan know what he’s doing?
He bought part of the Bobcats, of course not.
The pack your bags prediction: Charlotte just don’t have the assets to offer to other team and the only one they have they won’t trade. With 2014 playing up to be both a big free agent crop and a big draft, I see all of the bad teams holding on to their expiring contracts in hopes of a big signing. And Charlotte is a bad, bad team.
The delicious expiring contract: Ben Gordon. Just like I said above however, he is there to stay. He can bring a surge of offense of the bench and his $13-million coming off the books leave Charlotte with some hope. A top five pick coupled with one good signing to complement Big Al and you’re in business.
Key Player: Big Al
There just isn’t anyone else on this team. It’s going to be interesting how Jefferson adjusts to all of the attention (he had Millsap in Utah to take the pressure off), but he is still without a doubt the go-to guy on this team. He is the first, second and third option. Watch for him to make a serious push, but still remain a very strong big man on a very weak team.
The where did he come from prediction: Cody Zeller
It sure is going to feel like it to the Bobcats fans, but Zeller will have a great first season, challenging for the ROY trophy (he won’t win it). He’s smart and crafty offensively and with Big Al inside, Zeller’s lack thereof is not as much of a detriment anymore.
Best sly fantasy pick up: None.
After Big Al is gone in the first round (if you’re playing with smart opponents) stay away from anyone else on this team like the plague.
Best case scenario: Zeller develops the talent justifiable of a top five pick, Big Al does his thing while the Bobcats crash and burn into a top five draft pick yet again.
Worst case scenario: The team finds some sort of semblance of chemistry and takes advantage of the already weaker Eastern Conference (at least 4 teams tanking), hurting their chances at the prized assets of the 2014 draft.
Riggin’ for Wiggins Odds: 9:2
Prediction: 22-60, Lottery
Final word: A few extra wins will come courtesy of Jefferson but these are sad times at Charlotte (and they always have been). The team’s first hope of a successful season lies in 2014 and beyond, and even that is dependent on what pick they get out of the lottery. Until then, sorry Charlotte fan(s), you’re going to have to settle for more mediocrity.
And now, another special feature that we’re adding to these previews.