For anyone expecting the Brooklyn Nets to suddenly transcend into another stratosphere of success due to the additions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to their overpaid roster refuses to ignore the fact that this team is as old as it is experienced, and simply not good enough to topple the Miami Heat and even get that far with the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls in the way.
There’s no doubt the Nets suddenly look like a much bigger threat in the East, with a lineup that will include Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez, while Andray Blatche, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko should provide most of the quality off the bench.
But is that good enough to win the East? Paul Pierce still averaged 18.6 points per game last season, but his shooting percentages and defense is on a steady decline, that should, at some point, become a more slippery slope than the gradual drop we’ve seen so far. There’s also the problem of him and Johnson, two players with very similar attributes who are going to need to work on boundaries and not stepping over each other’s toes when they’re on the floor together.
Kevin Garnett is no longer the defensive force of nature that propelled the Boston Celtics from one of their worst seasons in history into NBA champions. He doesn’t have perimeter defense to help him with Williams, Johnson and Pierce on the outside, and there’s also a more bitter truth: Ever since Perkins left to the Thunder, Garnett just isn’t the same kind of defensive juggernaut. Sure, it has a lot to do with age and injuries that won’t leave him alone, but it simply has to do with the fact that his partners in the paint haven’t made it easy for him to do what he does.
One of Garnett’s former Western nemesis, Tim Duncan, enjoyed somewhat of a defensive revival last season thanks to Tiago Splitter doing such a good job next to him, allowing him to step out more and block shots instead of having to body check players on the post all game long, which takes a lot more out of him.
The Nets are going to be better than last season, especially if Williams gets over his injuries that troubled him for the first half of last season, and Kirilenko proves to be efficient on more than the defensive end of the floor in the veteran unit they have coming off the bench. Obviously, Pierce and Garnett are a big addition, no matter what flaws they bring along with them.
But looking at the Los Angeles Lakers from last season, having too many key players at the wrong side of 30 and with a history of injury issues isn’t the right way to build a team. The Nets aren’t to be blamed – money isn’t an object, and they started this road last season and had no choice but to follow up with the biggest move they could make. It gives them a better shot of making the Eastern finals, but anything beyond that will be a huge shocker.