Predictions for the Brooklyn Nets


How will the Brooklyn Nets fare this season? Here is what our staff predicts.

By Martin MihalyTaylor LuchtefeldChristopher RodriguezAnthony Parisi, Joseph Martinez & Joe Makram

The 2014-15 season starts on Wednesday night for the Brooklyn Nets. There have been plenty of changes since the team last played a meaningful game. Heck, that last game was against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last May. We all know where he is now. Again, lots of things have changed since that game.

As for Brooklyn, gone are Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Marcus Thornton and Andray Blatche.  Also, Jason Kidd is now coaching the Milwaukee Bucks instead of the Nets.

Among the new faces for the Nets this year are Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, and Markel Brown among others. Lionel Hollins is the Nets new head coach this season.

The beginning of each new season typically brings extreme optimism to every franchise and its’ fan base.  It’s a fresh start and a chance to wipe away the memory of last season.

For Brooklyn, that last part couldn’t be anymore truthful.

Last season brought extreme optimism after a blockbuster trade and a high-profile coaching hire. There was no such trade this offseason, and Hollins is not nearly the household name that Kidd is (but a far, far more experienced and successful coach who knows the style that he wants to teach).

Often times, the extreme optimism is quickly dampened once the games actually begin. Injuries occur, players and coaches alike do not perform to their capability and the team is suddenly struggling to even make the playoffs.

But who knows how this season will breakdown for the Nets. Brook Lopez is back from a broken foot. Deron Williams has two surgically ankles. Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko are back for another season with the Nets.

There are tons of questions facing the Nets this team: will Lopez’s surgically repaired foot be a recurring problem that already caused him to miss almost the entire preseason? Will Williams’ surgically repaired ankles hold up through the entire season? Can he re-gain his All-Star level? What impact will Hollins have on the team? Can Bogdanovic make the transition from being a professional overseas to the NBA? Will Andrei Kirilenko’s back continue to give him severe problems? How much better will Plumlee be following a successful rookie season and spending the summer helping Team USA win gold in the FIBA World Cup?

So, what do you your’s truly think of the Nets this season?

Here are each staff writers predictions for the Brooklyn Nets this season.

Martin Mihaly

Record Prediction: 49-33 (4th in Eastern Conference)

In the 2012-13 season, the Nets went 49-33 with Williams, Johnson and Lopez being the team’s core three players. The offense revolved around them. As they went, so did the Nets.

Following the departures of Kidd and Livingston, Williams has re-emerged as the Nets primary ball handler. He likely won’t be spending nearly as much time splitting point guard duties with Jack.

Lopez could very well be the key to the Nets success this season. It’s difficult to predict what type of impact Hollins has on his new big man. During his tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies, Hollins loved to use Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph like old-school big men, staying close to the basket, being physical inside, and imposing their will offensively, defensively and on the boards.

With Hollins at the helm, the Nets have already figured out several things this season that will undoubtedly make them a better team early on. The team will run an offense that closely resembles that of which the Utah Jazz ran when Williams was there. Each player on the team already knows their role on the team.

Two of the team’s core players, Williams and Johnson, have developed continuity with the returning supporting cast. Lopez still needs to adjust to Garnett, Kirilenko and Plumlee, but has plenty of experience playing with Johnson and Williams.

Most of the Nets success depends on the health of Williams and Lopez. If the point guard/center duo can stay relatively healthy, that will only improve the Nets standing in the restructured Eastern Conference.

We all know who will get the ball in a close game. Johnson has been among the best in late game situations over the last two seasons.

The Nets have talent but not to the level of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Chicago Bulls. They also do not have the youth of either the Washington Wizards or the Toronto Raptors, with whom they will battle for the Atlantic Division title again.

Brooklyn will be better than last year but health will likely be an issue again.

Team MVP: Joe Johnson

Williams ankles are repaired and the new offense is tailored to best fit his skills. Lopez is back from a broken foot. When those two are on the court together with Johnson, he will often times be the third offensive option for Brooklyn. In fact, they might still be the Nets two best players when healthy.

However, Williams is coming off a season where it appears he lost confidence and had his worst statistical season since his rookie season. Lopez’s foot has already sidelined him in the preseason. Could his foot troubles be a recurring issue for the Nets? Nobody can tell that, but there is definitely some concern.

With that being said, Johnson has been the Nets most reliable player over the last two seasons. No, he hasn’t put up huge, superstar numbers. In fact, there have been times during games where has Johnson has been practically nonexistent.

Over the last two seasons, Johnson has appeared in 170 out of a possible 183 games for the Nets, including playoffs. He’s averaged 16.0 points while shooting 43.8% from the field and 38.8% from three-point range. He averaged 21.2 points in last season’s playoffs.

Oh, and he’s pretty good in late game situations.

Bold Prediction: Mirza Teletovic competes in three-point shootout and wins

The NBA All-Star Weekend will be held in New York this season. The pre-game events will be held at the Barclays Center with the All-Star game taking place at Madison Square Garden.

Teletovic is a dangerous shooter. He shot 39.0% percent from three-point range last season, 42nd in the NBA. He made 136 of his attempts, good for 27th most in the league.

He’s a bit of a streaky shooter but if he’s open he makes opponents pay. Teletovic has a relatively quick release that would benefit him in the contest.

It’s not uncommon for the league to place a player from the hosting cities team into any of its contests. Teletovic is a more than serviceable shooter for the event. Should he be selected, he will have his fellow Nets fans rooting him on.

Taylor Luchtefeld

Record Prediction: 43-39 (7th in the Eastern Conference)

The expectations are not near as high coming into this year as they were going into 2013, for obvious reasons. Nobody is picking Brooklyn to make it to the Finals and some analysts don’t even have them making the Playoffs. But is this team really that much worse off than the 2013-14 squad?

The good Nets news: they upgraded at Head Coach, they should get a full season out of Lopez, and Mason Plumlee is coming off of a stellar summer where he shocked everyone by making the USA Olympic roster. The bad news: Paul Pierce is gone, LeBron James is still in the East, and Kevin Garnett/Joe Johnson/Deron Williams are all 1 year older while possibly becoming a step slower.

The good and the bad are pretty even as far as I’m concerned going into the year, which leads me to believe that we are headed for another solid season in Brooklyn. I see them battling for the 7th spot with either Atlanta or Miami in April. Optimism is the key this year in Brooklyn and we should be in for a fun season watching the boys in black.

Team MVP: Brook Lopez

There is no secret that the Nets season is riding upon Brook Lopez’s health. He missed most of last season with a foot injury and we were left wondering if the outcome against Miami would have been altered had not Lopez went down for the year. He has incredible upside and can be a top 3 Center in the league when he puts it all together. The frontcourt scoring load will be mainly on his shoulders this year as he will be flanked with an aging Garnett as well as the developing talents of Teletovic and Plumlee.

New Head Coach Hollins has been known to center, some pun intended, his offensive play calling around his big men. Which means Lopez should see a lot more touches than in previous seasons playing under more guard-focused coaches. He’s got the keys, now we just have to hope he knows the direction to the promise land.

Bold Prediction: Alan Anderson has a breakout year off the bench and finishes in the top three in the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Anderson really started to come into his own towards the end of last season and into the playoffs. He was a lockdown defender for the Nets’ second unit in both of Brooklyn’s playoff series. The former Michigan State Spartan averaged almost 10 points per contest in division games last season and was also inserted into the starting lineup at various points of the season in relief of Paul Pierce.

From a statistical standpoint, Anderson’s numbers aren’t going to turn any heads but his opportunities should present themselves with more of a consistent role this upcoming year. It also cannot be forgotten that he is in a contract season with a player option for the 2015-16 season. His play will have to be elevated if he wants to put some money in his pockets next summer.  If given playing time, Double A has a chance to be something special this season.

Christopher Rodriguez

Season Record: 51 – 31 (3rd in the Eastern Conference)

The Nets record, possibly more than any NBA team, will be predicated on their health.  With a second unit composed of Jarrett Jack, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic, and Mason Plumlee, any short injury stint won’t have a major impact, but anything beyond a few games could become disconcerting.

With the Bulls and Cavaliers vastly improving and the Pacers and Heat taking hits in talent and depth, the Eastern Conference standings will be reshuffled this season. If the Nets are able to stay healthy, consistently beat the teams likely to be at the bottom of the Conference, and defend their home court against middling teams like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington, then even losing out against Chicago and Cleveland will keep them competing for their division title with the Raptors.  

Brooklyn’s road record last season was 16 – 25, while the teams above them were able to garner 21 or 22 wins. Lopez’s return and a better start than last year’s 10-21 record should make up that 6 win road difference, giving Brooklyn 50+ win potential. If either Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving misses significant time the Nets could even have the opportunity they need to approach a top two seed.

Team MVP: Brook Lopez

As Brook Lopez goes, so does Brooklyn.  Lopez’s inside presence was something no one on Brooklyn was able to provide last season and a 20 point, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks per game season would go a long ways into a successful season for the Nets.  With Coach Lionel Hollins focused on improving Lopez’s all around game and the Nets likely focusing on a half-court offense, Lopez should be the center point of the Nets offense.

If Marc Gasol is any indication of possible improvement under Hollins, Lopez will be the biggest beneficiary of the coaching transition. Hollins has already set the tone by giving attention to Lopez’s passing ability or lack thereof and made the Nets big man focus on starting his offensive positioning closer to the basket.  Considering Lopez was third in Player Efficiency Rating before his injury last season, any improvement could launch him into elite territory and another All-Star Game appearance.

Bold Prediction: Nets become Top 2 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency in the Eastern Conference

The Nets ranked 14th in offensive rating and 19th in defensive efficiency rating in the NBA last season and finished 9th in defensive efficiency in their conference.  With a new system that will have players constantly moving in the half-court, the Nets offense should get their fair share of open shots throughout the season. With a lot more pick-and-rolls and cuts to the basket, Deron Williams will have the opportunity to attack the basket more often, while offering up the lobs to Lopez and Plumlee. Add in shooters in Teletovic, Johnson, and Bojan Bogdanovic to spread the floor, and you have the potential for a myriad of wide open 3 pointers off screens, which Hollins wasn’t able to include in his offense on a Memphis team devoid of shooters.

On the defensive end is where Brooklyn’s biggest improvement will come.  Defending the pick-and-roll is something the Nets haven’t done well in recent memory, but having to defend it in practice every day should change that.  The lateral quickness of the starting lineup will be tested, but Hollins focuses on teaching players to keep the ball in front of them, something that both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were able to learn during Hollins’ tenure in Memphis. If Lopez and Kevin Garnett can grasp those same techniques, then the defensive transition should quickly occur. 

Leading that transition will likely be Alan Anderson and more importantly, Andrei Kirilenko. With the ability to guard players at every position, Kirilenko is the X-Factor for Brooklyn and his hustle and energy should endear him to the Nets new coach.  With Brooklyn keying in on slowing the pace of the game down and forcing opposing offenses to slow down their transition offense, the Nets may be able to move into the league’s elite on both sides of the ball.

Anthony Parisi

Season Record: 50-32 (3rd in the Eastern Conference)

The Brooklyn Nets success next season will depend on health. If The Nets are healthy they will be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The question is whether or not they will stay healthy and that question will determine whetheror not Brooklyn is a top tier team, or a borderline playoff team.

My prediction is based on the assumption that Brook Lopez and Deron Williams stay healthy for most of the season. With new coach Lionel Hollins, who is known for his winning pedigree, the Nets will surprise a lot of people this season. People forget how talented this team truly is.

Team MVP: Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez is as good of an offensive center in the NBA when he is healthy. Lopez made the All Star Team 2 years ago and he looked to be All Star bound again last season before suffering another foot injury. Lopez is the engine that runs the Nets and he is their best player.

Lionel Hollins loved using Marc Gasol in the low post in Memphis and he’ll surely be intrigued by having a dominant low post presence in Lopez on this team. If healthy, I expect Lopez to average over 20 points per game next season along with a 55 percent field goal percentage, with 6-7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Bold Prediction: Bojan Bogdanovic will win the Rookie of the Year Award

Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to be the Nets starter for their opening game against the Celtics and not many rookies get the chance to start on a winning team. Coach Lionel Hollins isn’t known to play rookies that often and that also shows how impressed he must be with Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic has struggled mightily during the preseason, but I don’t expect that to last long. People compare Bogdanovic’s early struggles to Mirza Teletovic’s in his rookie season which is a valid comparison, the only difference is unlike Teletovic, Bogdanovic can do much more than hit spot up three-pointers. Bogdanovic can post up, put the ball on the floor, get out in transition and of course as I alluded to, hit a spot up three. Bogdanovic’s nickname in Europe was ‘Big Shot Bojan’ so adding him with the Nets version of Mr. Big Shot Joe “Jesus” Johnson will help take some pressure off of Johnson.

Joe Makram

Season Record: 46-36 (3rd in the Eastern Conference)

The Atlantic Division is the weakest division in the NBA this season, which should work in the Nets’ favor as they beat up on the likes of Boston, Philadelphia, and of course, the mediocrity stricken New York Knicks.

Additionally, look for the Toronto Raptors to take a step backward this year. Their roster is simply not as talented as their win total reflected last year, and they could struggle to get into the playoffs this year in a recharged Eastern Conference.

The Nets on the other hand are a team with a higher ceiling than the Raptors, so long as a few factors play out in their favor. Of course everything with the Nets starts and ends with the health and productivity of Brook Lopez, and Deron Williams. If both of those guys look healthy and play over 75 games in the regular season, who knows where the Nets could end up finishing in the conference.

Other important factors will be how, or if, Kevin Garnett bounces back this year with Brook Lopez back alongside him. Is Mason Plumlee ready to take a big step forward this season? How much can Bojan Bogdanovic contribute at the small forward position? Because of injuries, the Nets are kind of an unknown when they are at full strength, so it will be interesting to see what they look like coming out of the gate to start the season.

Team MVP: Mason Plumlee

The Nets will obviously rely on D-Will, Joe Johnson, and Lopez, and will need high productivity from all three of those guys to be a threat, but in terms of this team being able to reach its full potential, nobody is more valuable to the roster than Plumlee. Plumlee is the X-Factor in everything that the Nets are doing right now.

Coming off a summer in which he worked with his college coach Mike Krzyzewski and the U.S.A. FIBA basketball program, all eyes are on Mason to really take his game to another level this season. Plumlee provides a youthful spark, and a super-active, defensive minded big-man that the Nets will desperately need off the bench. In a best-case scenario, Mason’s developed offensive game that we saw in FIBA play will carry over to the NBA season.

If that were to be the case, look for Plumlee to get strong consideration as the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season, and look for him to become a crunch time force for the Nets on the defensive side. The thought of Plumlee being able to play alongside Brook Lopez at the end of games is perhaps the most intriguing possibility of the Nets roster this season.

Bold Prediction: Deron Williams will be involved in trade rumors

If the Nets struggle in the first half of the season, don’t be surprised to see Deron WIliams get traded by the deadline. This is a situation that the front office certainly hopes will not come into fruition, but it is a possibility that cannot be ignored.

Williams has a massive contract that is guaranteed through the 2016-17 season, so if the Nets get off to a bad start, why wouldn’t they look to unload that contract for cap space and/or assets.

The Sacramento Kings are a team to be on the lookout for. They are a small market team with some money to spend, and their front office unrealistically believes that they are a true contender this season. If both the Nets and Kings get off to a slow start this season (the Kings part will definitely happen), the Kings would likely be willing to send a guy like Derrick Williams to the Nets and maybe even a pick for Deron Williams.

If the Nets sense that they’re out of contention by the time this type of trade becomes a possibility, don’t be surprised if they pull the trigger, and look to rebuild around Lopez and Plumlee.

Joseph Martinez

Season Record: 48-34 (5th in the Eastern Conference)

If the Nets can stay healthy throughout the season then sky is the limit. Brooklyn is stacked with talent across the board with guys like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Their biggest issue has been health from their two biggest stars; Williams and Lopez. If the Nets want to contend this season both will have to stay healthy. If not, then the Nets will most likely miss the playoffs.

With additions of guys like Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarrett Jack and company the Nets will have the necessary depth to compete in the East. Of course the losses of Pierce, Blatche and Livingston will hurt the Nets but they are still a stacked team. Jack is arguably one of the best backup point guards in the league and then they have one of the best shooters in the league in Mirza Teletovic so they have the necessary depth off the bench.

Brooklyn also has a new head coach in veteran Lionel Hollins. He will transform this team instantly. He’s a lot tougher minded coach than Jason Kidd was and he has the necessary experience. This is one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. Having a different coach really makes a difference more than you may think. Hollins will definitely get the most out of the Nets this season.

Team MVP: Deron Williams

Williams has struggled mightily in his tenure with the Nets. Not living up to his max contract. To be fair, he hasn’t been healthy at all. Especially last season when he had a numerous amount of sprained ankles. It’s sad to see someone who used to be one of the best point guards in the league is struggling to stay healthy.

Williams did finally get surgery on both of his ankles which all Nets’ fans are hoping solved the problem and helped Williams get his explosiveness and his lift back. He seems confident and ready to take on any challenge that awaits him this season.

Don’t be surprised if Williams has a breakout season. I personally predict he’ll at least average 18 points and 8 assists per game. I think the ankle surgery solved his problems. He looks fast again. He’s in outstanding shape and his confidence level is probably as high as it’s ever been. Watch out, Deron Williams is back.

Bold Prediction: Nets advance to Eastern Conference Finals

This may be a little too bold but I believe this team can accomplish it. If the Nets can stay healthy, they’re almost as good as anyone in the East. When healthy, Deron Williams is one of the best point guards in the league. Brook Lopez is one of the best centers in the game if only he can improve his rebounding.

The Nets also have the most clutch player in the league in Joe Johnson. If Johnson can continue the high level he played at last season then this Nets team will be even scarier with a healthy Williams and Lopez. This team doesn’t have high expectations and they like it like that.

Last but not least, the most important part of a team that is overlooked; the bench. The Nets easily have one of the best benches in the NBA lead by Jack, Teletovic, Kirilenko and many, many more. This Nets team is deep, as it was last season but this season they have a veteran head coach that knows how to lead a team and that’s been there before. It’s okay to underrate the Nets, they like it better like that. Just gives Brooklyn extra motivation to prove all the doubters and naysayers wrong.