In order to lure fans and get them excited about the Nets’ first season in Brooklyn, the franchise decided to take Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace and label them as the ‘Core Four’; Big X just doesn’t cut it anymore, and this isn’t exactly the most impressive bunch of superstars ever assembled.
Don’t get me wrong. Deron Williams is a Dream-Teamer, bonafied All-Star and one of the best point guard in the NBA, sometimes even the best on a good day. He’s pretty much a every night 20-10 kind of player, and the team’s best player and biggest star. He signed a five year, $98 million contract not too long ago, creating a season-ticket sales boom, letting people, new and old fans alike, know there’s something to build around.
Joe Johnson has been to the All-Star game six consecutive times since 2007, but he’s probably a bit past his best days. He arrived with his huge (four years, $98 million) contract from the Atlanta Hawks, traded for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson and a draft pick. He averaged 18.8 points during the regular season but had another disappointing postseason performance.
Brook Lopez hardly played last year, and his role, for most of this summer, was being trade bait for the Orlando Magic, hoping to get Dwight Howard. Once the hopes of getting the biggest name in the market were over, the Nets decided that keeping a Center that is guaranteed (unless the injury really messed him up) to put up 20 points a night isn’t so bad, signing him on a four year, $60 million contract.
Gerald Wallace is probably the biggest question mark, and a good season from him might be the barometer for how good the Nets will be in their inaugural season in Brooklyn. Wallace got traded for the second time in 13 months, leaving the Blazers for New Jersey, averaging 15.2 points in his 16 games for the Nets. Since leaving the Bobcats something seems a bit off about Wallace. Something about passion and his style looking a bit sluggish. Maybe getting a confidence booster in the form of a four year, $40 million contract will get the 29 year old back on track.
In all, the Nets have quite an impressive starting lineup, whoever fills the Power Forward position (Kris Humphries?). But their biggest goal this season is turning this team into real competition for the Knicks. Not just in Brooklyn, but in the entire tri-state area, and later on the nation and the world. Making the Nets a global brand, and not just someone fighting the New York Knicks for local attention.
By using the Core Four campaign and tag-line, Mikhail Prokhorov and those around him that run the Nets will try and do what Jason Kidd and two NBA Finals appearances couldn’t – Make the Nets franchise a trendy one, with a popularity that’s here to stay.