Can The Nets Compete in the Eastern Conference?


This offseason has been an eventful one for the Brooklyn Nets. They’ve gotten under the luxury tax, brought back their announced centerpiece (Brook Lopez), signed Thaddeus Young (for about two-thirds of what the market would have paid), dropped the average age of the team by two years, and gotten rid of the max contract that hung over them like an ominous shadow.

Despite the frenzy of offseason moves that Billy King has strung together, it still may not be enough for the team to make the playoffs, which remains the ultimate goal. Since the Nets do not own their draft pick next year, falling into the lottery would do them no benefit. So although they must rebuild, tearing down the structure in its entirety is out of the question. The Eastern Conference is getting better by the second, and will take no prisoners when the 2016 NBA Playoffs roll around. That being said, with tanking out of the question, here are a few moves that I think the Nets could make, in order to have a fighting chance in the East:

1. Sign another point guard.

Although the buyout of Deron Williams’ contract did wonders for the Nets’ financial woes, it does leave a gaping hole at the point guard position. Even in his worst stretches, Williams was a threat to explode on any given night; See: Game 4. Jarrett Jack will assumingly be the primary ball-handler for the Nets next season. As DWill’s backup, Jack averaged 12 points and 4.7 assists. Solid, but not starter quality. Clearly, this will need to be a team effort at the point guard position. The Nets brought in Larkin, who is a young, quick point guard with the ability to cut in either direction in a hurry. In his sophomore year playing with the New York Knicks, Larkin averaged 6.2 points and 3 assists. Again, the numbers don’t blow you away, but he could definitely provide a good change of pace for teams that have grown familiar with guarding Jack over the course of a game. Nets coach Lionel Hollins is on the record saying that Brooklyn needs another point guard. I am in full agreement.

2. Bring in a legitimate backup center.

As of now, the Nets’ center rotation consists of Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani (if you consider him a center). Ironically enough, the type of center they need is similar to what they had in Mason Plumlee: a rebounding, athletic big man that could give Brook Lopez some time to catch his breath on the bench. Without that legitimate back up center, they’d be forced to play Bargnani to relieve Lopez, which wouldn’t turn out well for anybody, except the opposing team.

3. Add another solid wing defender.

Whether it be at point guard, shooting guard, or small forward, another quality wing defender is necessary (especially at point). Markel Brown and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are both known to be defensive specialists, while it is generally understood that Joe Johnson has the length and strength to guard players that may be bigger or quicker than he is. Ideally, the defense would come in the form of another point guard, considering that the aforementioned players are interchangeable at the shooting guard and small forward positions.

The Nets have come a long way out of their financial purgatory, and have relieved themselves of the “old” tag that was associated with their brand. Based on where they started, they’ve made miles of progress, but based on the rate at which the East is improving, they’ve still got some work to do if they want to be considered a threat. An additional point guard, an athletic backup center, and another solid wing defender are just three steps the team could take in order to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot in the East.

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