2015-16 NBA Record: 21-61
Additions: Jeremy Lin (Charlotte Hornets), Trevor Booker (Utah Jazz), Luis Scola (Indiana Pacers), Greivis Vasquez (Milwaukee Bucks), Anthony Bennett (Toronto Raptors), Randy Foye (Oklahoma City Thunder), Joe Harris (Cleveland Cavaliers), Chase Budinger (Phoenix Suns), Justin Hamilton (Valencia Basket), Isaiah Whitehead (draft rights traded from Utah Jazz), Caris LeVert (draft rights traded from Indiana Pacers)
Subtractions: Thaddeus Young (traded to Indiana Pacers), Wayne Ellington (Miami Heat), Willie Reed (Miami Heat)
Projected Starting Lineup (via ESPN.com)
PG – Jeremy Lin
SG – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
SF – Bojan Bogdanovic
PF – Trevor Booker
C – Brook Lopez
Under new general manager Sean Marks and new head coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets will be looking to repair the damage made by the previous front office. The Nets in the last few years have tried to buy players for a title run rather than building from the ground up. Since the Nets moved to Brooklyn five years, we’ve seen the likes of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Thaddeus Young and Kevin Garnett come and go after not living up to expectations. Due to the gambles of the front office, the Nets were left without a 1st round pick in this year’s draft, as well as for the next couple of seasons, which has left Sean Marks scratching his head over how to rebuild this team over the next few years. Rookie GM Marks was unlucky to miss out on emerging talents Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson in free agency, as their offer sheets were matched by Portland and Miami respectively. This left Marks scrambling for roster-fillers for the rest of free agency.
The franchise managed to grab some role players in free agency, as well as some budding young prospects via trade, however none of these players are franchise-changers. The current face of the Nets seems to be Brook Lopez, who has been a constant offensive threat at center while everything’s changed around him. The addition of Jeremy Lin will allow fans to witness the Brook-Lin pick’n’roll, but the rest of the team seem more suitable as role players than starters. We may see Lin and Greivis Vasquez in the backcourt a lot this season, with Vasquez being a better play-maker and Lin stronger off the ball. This would be similar to how Lin was put in the backcourt with Kemba Walker during his time in Charlotte. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is one of the top defensive players on this team and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is starting. The development of Isaiah Whitehead and Caris LeVert will be something to keep an eye on. Whitehead is the first Brooklyn-born player selected since the Nets relocated, while LeVert, a 6″7 shooter out of Michigan, is a player with high upside who has been troubled by injury during in his college career.
The Nets are a prime example of what not to do when trying to pursue a championship. Because of their mistakes, the franchise is suffering and Sean Marks is struggling trying to structure a team without any future picks. As of right now, the Sixers may have a more talented roster than the Nets, which is why I think the Nets will be the NBA cellar dwellers this year. The development of young players in Whitehead, LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson will be key in building Brooklyn’s future and Sean Marks will have to lock up this young core, as well as finding creative ways to rebuild the team.
Prediction: 5th in Atlantic Division