The NBA’s New Potential Superpower
At the end of the 2011-12 NBA season, the New Jersey Nets packed up their bags and moved to the recently built Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets needed to move into Brooklyn with a different atmosphere around the team, something that would separate them from the last few disappointing years in Newark. They changed their logo, but fans wouldn’t come to the new stadium without a better product on the field. With their All-Star point guard torn between the Dallas Mavericks and the Nets, there was a real possibility that the team would be worse than last year’s team and their attendance issues would follow them to Brooklyn. Dwight Howard was considered the piece that would convince Deron Williams to stay, but it was a trade out of nowhere that pushed him away from Dallas and towards the Nets.
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The Nets pulled off a trade for the Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson without giving up any of their young players, and although it will restrict them financially, it convinced Williams to sign a max deal with the Nets. Along with the re-signing of Gerald Wallace, Williams saw a team improving itself, while Mark Cuban continued to let pieces of the 2010-11 championship Mavs walk away. Assuming the Nets can re-sign both Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, I think they can be a playoff contender in the upcoming season.
Reports have surfaced that the Nets could still trade for Howard, but that would require giving up Lopez, Humphries, Marshon Brooks, and first round picks for the next few years. That is a lot to give up, and it would be better for the Nets to wait until the offseason when Dwight becomes a free agent. Brooks and Lopez are young players with a lot of potential, and Humphries is a good defender and rebounder. The Nets also signed Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic, who is only 26 years old. Whoever the Nets decided to fill out the rest of the roster with, this group is a good enough supporting cast for the backcourt of Williams and Johnson.
While no one expects the Big 3 of Williams, Johnson, and Wallace to match that of the Miami Heat’s Big 3, the talent level on the team has improved enough to compete in the East. After Miami and Chicago, there is an aging Celtics team, a young Indiana squad, and everything else. If their young players can continue to improve, the Brooklyn Nets could become an annual playoff contender. The New York Knicks should be worried, as the Brooklyn Nets are determined to take over the New York basketball scene.