The Nets had another disappointing season last year, and to be fair, this season doesn’t bode well for them either. After trading their first round pick from this summer, they were left without any true riches from the top of the draft. However, they were able to creep back into the first round and select Caris LeVert. Though this is good, LeVert is not the type of player that you can start building a future around right now. Brook Lopez is still easily their best player, but he would need lots of help to just make the playoffs, let alone be a contender. And since the Celtics have control of the Nets’ first round picks for the next two years (swap rights in 2017, complete control in 2018), Brooklyn will need to find another way to rebuild.
2015-2016 Record: 21-61
Linsanity is no more, and Jeremy Lin is a below-average starter in the NBA. He played well last year in a back up role to Kemba Walker, but there is a lot to desire at the point. At the 2, Hollis-Jefferson had a tough injury that forced him to miss much of last season, so this year will be another learning year for him. Slotted next to Lin and Hollis-Jefferson is the sharpshooter Bogdanovic. Bojan, though 28-years-old, is entering his third year in the league, and shot 38.2% from three last season. Luis Scola holds down the power forward slot, where he is clearly past his prime. Now 35, Scola may not be the same player he used to be, but he has definitely expanded his range. Last season was the first time he made more than 5 threes in a season, and he made 65 on 40% shooting from deep. Rounding out the starting lineup is the Nets’ star, Brook Lopez. In his career, Lopez has been counted on to drop 20 and 8 just about every night. The good news for the Nets is that Lopez is showing no signs of slowing down, but the problem is the rest of the roster. Brook is a great player, but he is not the guy who can carry a team to the playoffs.
Off the bench, Brooklyn will certainly struggle. Greivis Vasquez missed most of last season due to injury, but he has spent most of his career as a reliable backup. If he can get back to that form, he will be solid off the bench. LeVert was their first round pick and he should reserve a fair amount of minutes and get the opportunity to prove himself at the next level. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was a solid contributor in 23 games with the Nets last season, achieving almost 14 ppg.
The main strength for the Nets last season was their ability to keep their opponents off the free throw line. Brooklyn committed the second least amount of fouls last year and that resulted in giving up the second least amount of points from the line. Although this is a good thing to have on your side, the Nets did not have any other major strengths as a team. The impact that Brook Lopez has on a game is clearly an advantage, but aside from him, not much else to worry about from the Nets.
Depth is a key weakness for the Nets. Although their starting lineup isn’t the best, that do not bring much firepower off the bench. I really like Sean Kilpatrick off the bench for them as he can be a spark plug scorer, but the rest of their bench is made of unproven or unreliable talents. They also need to work on their defense, as they finished dead last in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage. Wins start on the defensive end of the floor, so that needs to be addressed prior to the start of the new season.
Did the Nets get any better from last season? Honestly, this is a good question. They didn’t exactly add any great pieces, nor did they lose much. Based off of this, I think 20 wins is about where the Nets will end up. At their best, they might be able to grab 25, and I think they could go as low as 15. This would be alright if they had control of their draft pick next season, but they don’t, so Celtics’ fans are just getting ready for another great draft.