If Healthy The Nets Can Compete With Anyone


The Brooklyn Nets came into this season with sub-par expectations from pundits and were not given a chance to compete in the new and improved Eastern Conference. The lack of belief from spectators meant nothing to the Nets organization and coach Lionel Hollins expected his team to compete night in and night out. The media looked correct after the Nets were whooped by the Boston Celtics in their season opener, but coach Hollins kept his team believing and the Nets won their next two games.

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After beating their crosstown rivals the New York Knicks on Friday night, the Nets are now starting to turn some of their doubters into believers. It’s only a small sample size, but Deron Williams is off to a great start, Brook Lopez is still a dominant low post presence, Joe Johnson is performing at a very high level and their supporting cast is also playing well.

Coach Lionel Hollins is known for being a defensive minded coach and his team harassed Carmelo Anthony all night on Friday and Anthony shot 5-20 from the field. Williams had a big night on Friday, D-Will dropped 29 points going 10-15 from the field against one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders Iman Shumpert. Williams is confident and feels that nobody can guard him and that is good news for the Nets. “I just feel like if you put one person on me, it’s going to be hard to stop me.” Williams told reporters after Friday night’s win over the Knicks.

Johnson carried the Nets during the postseason last year and he has carried that success into this season. Johnson lost some weight during the offseason, as he got into yoga and the 33 year old has looked loose and efficient this season. Most people consider Williams and Lopez the Nets best players, but Johnson quietly has been the Nets best player over the last year and 5 games.

No matter how much he gets criticized for being soft and not rebounding, nobody can deny that when Brook Lopez is on the court the Nets are a better basketball team. There aren’t many players that can guard Lopez one on one and adding his dominant low post presence on the court is a huge boost to the Nets. Lopez almost always forces a double team and that leaves an open shooter which can cause havoc for an opposing defense. After struggling on Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lopez responded against the Knicks with 20 points and 9 rebounds.

The ‘Big Three’ for the Nets of Johnson, Williams and Lopez have put up big numbers so far this season. Williams is averaging 19.8 points per game,7 assists per game and he is shooting 47 percent from the field. Johnson is averaging 21.2 points per game, 6 rebounds per game and he is shooting 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from three. Lopez is averaging 16 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, 2 blocks per game and he is shooting 50 percent from the field.

The Nets supporting cast isn’t as appreciated as it should be. Jarrett Jack is a proven competitor in this league and he has looked good so far this season. Mirza Teletovic is still a lights out shooter and his defense and rebounding has significantly improved. Despite struggling early on, rookie Bojan Bogdanovic has shown flashes of becoming a great player lately. Kevin Garnett has looked ten times better and more comfortable than he was last year and lastly, Mason Plumlee seems to always provide a spark of energy when he steps on the floor.

The biggest key to the Nets season will be their health. If the Nets are healthy they can be a serious threat in the Eastern Conference, but if the injury bug hits Lopez or Williams they will not do anything this year. So far so good and if they stay healthy it can be a joyous season in Brooklyn for the Nets and their fans.

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