Brooklyn Nets 2015-16 Season Preview
2014-15 Record: 38-44, No. 3 Atlantic Division, No. 8 Eastern Conference. Eliminated in first round of 2015 playoffs by Atlanta in six games.
Roster Additions: F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (No. 23 overall pick in draft by Portland, traded to Brooklyn), F Chris McCullough (No. 29 overall pick), F Thomas Robinson, G Shane Larkin, F Andrea Bargnani, G Donald Sloan, F Dahntay Jones, G Wayne Ellington, C Willie Reed, F Quincy Miller
Roster Subtractions: F/C Mason Plumlee, G Deron Williams, G Pat Connaughton (No. 41 overall pick, traded to Portland), G Alan Anderson, F Earl Clark, F Brandon Davies, F Cory Jefferson, F Mirza Teletovic, C Jerome Jordan, G Darius Morris
2014-15 Recap: Brooklyn's ambitious plan to try and force a title with a plethora of NBA veterans came crashing down last season. After mortgaging the future to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, as well as dishing out expensive deals for Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, the Nets found themselves trapped in a salary cap net with an aging roster that was unable to get far in the playoffs. With a roster devoid of young talent, the Nets finished in the bottom half of the league in both offense (No. 21) and defense (No. 18). The team dropped below .500 with a November loss to Portland, and never got back to that point. Brooklyn hit a season-low 13 games below .500 in March, but used a Brook Lopez-powered winning streak to fight back into playoff contention. They successfully earned the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, and managed to scare the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs before falling in six games.
2015-16 Offseason: A full revamp of the roster was needed for Brooklyn to escape the salary cap purgatory the Johnson and Williams deals had them locked into. First on the list was retaining Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez to secure the front court. Secondly, the team brought in young players who had struggled elsewhere in Larkin and Robinson. Thirdly, Bargnani was brought aboard to shore up the depth for Lopez, who has struggled with injuries. Finally, the team did what it had to do and cut Williams, ending the troubled four-year tenure of the mercurial point guard.
Draft night was a boon for the Nets as they acquired one of the best small forward prospects in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in a trade with Portland, sending away young prospect Mason Plumlee and a second-round pick (Connaughton), while also grabbing Steve Blake. Blake was then flipped to Detroit for Quincy Miller. Brooklyn also drafted Chris McCullough to give the team a steady and strong rotation of forwards and centers.
Projected Starting Lineup: Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic, Johnson, Young, Lopez
2015-16 Outlook: This team is built to go one of two directions: straight to the top of the division or straight to the bottom. As previously stated, the front court is devastatingly effective, with Lopez and Young providing a ton of scoring in the post. Despite his injuries, Lopez is still one of the best true centers in the NBA, and is a consistent 20 and 10 threat every night. Combined with good depth from McCullough, Bargnani, and Robinson, the Nets will be able to match up with any group of power forwards and centers in the league.
The issue lies in the other three players. Jarrett Jack is now counted upon as the starter at point guard, sharing a passing role with Shane Larkin. Jack is a huge question mark with a 3.3 turnovers per game average last season, and a criminally low 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. Bogdanovic is a three-point machine who can drop 22 points at the drop of a hat. He can also go ice cold for long periods. During the playoff series versus the Hawks, he had a strong Game 3 and Game 4, but was virtually non-existent for the other four games. Johnson is a crafty veteran who can score and defend when counted upon, but his production has slipped over the years.
Final Prediction: The team has the talent to get to the playoffs, especially sharing a division with New York and Philadelphia, but the team simply does not have the strength at all positions to make a deep playoff run. 40-42, 3rd Place in Division.