It may come as a surprise to some or might even comedic that the Brooklyn Nets are on the rise. After all, finishing at or near the bottom of the NBA for the last few years, there is only room for improvement. Sometimes all it takes a franchise to turn around on its head is acquiring a franchise player for which they can build around. From that franchise centerpiece, surrounding counterparts are added and a core is developed. The Nets have been aggressive in making key personnel changes this offseason with hopes of becoming a franchise beginning its climb. Before we look at those acquisitions, we must first look at how it all went wrong.
The Wrong Move
After being stripped of their future at the hands of the Boston Celtics in a ‘blockbuster’ trade in every sense of the word back in 2013, the Nets are STILL trying to recover from the deal. The Nets shipped Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, and Keith Bogans but more importantly, the myriad of first-round picks. Those picks came in the years of 2014, 2016 just recently of 2017 and one final pick in 2018 — all this in exchange for an aging Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for a chance to be crowned NBA champions in a very small window. The Celtics went on to use those picks on players such as Marcus Smart in 2014, Jaylen Brown in 2016 and Jayson Tatum in the 2017 draft. The Celtics have one more year of Brooklyn’s picks and then both can wash their hands from this trade and both move forward.
As we all know that 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets supposed ‘super team’ of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez did not pan out. For the Nets, this deal was more disastrous when they had to deal with those players leaving and their future in ruin. With current GM Sean Marks going into his third year, the future is now and Brooklyn is more than ready to move forward from its disastrous past.
2017 Offseason Additions
D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov – (Brook Lopez draft rights Kyle Kuzma)
The acquisition of Russell and Mozgov sent shockwaves across the NBA. The Los Angelas Lakers had high hopes for Russell when selecting him No. 2 overall back in the 2015 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, the chemistry and wins did not follow with Russell running the show. With a highly touted Lonzo Ball entering the draft, the Lakers saw this as a chance to move on from Russell and get value for him while they still could. Russell will now have full control over the Nets offense and will likely be their primary scoring option. This is a chance to either prove his draft worth under dimmer lights or show that he has let being traded hurt his confidence thus resulting in poor performances while on the court. Time will tell.
Timofey Mozgov has managed to find his way onto an NBA roster, surprisingly enough with his rather big contract he got from the Lakers last summer (64 million over 4 years). Mozgov was hoping to turn his career into the positive direction with the Lakers, but a season hampered by injuries limited him to only playing in 54 games for the purple and gold. It seemed he was never able to find his footing while on the Lakers averaging only 7.4 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game, stats that he as well as the Nets hope climb upwards in his first season in Brooklyn.
The shot-blocking big man from the University of Texas was selected by the Nets with the 22nd overall pick in this summers NBA draft. In his solo year as a Longhorn, he averaged 13.4 points per game while bringing down 8.5 rebounds per game. Allen swatted away 51 shots and established his post presence while also showing off his absurd 7’4″ wingspan. With a wingspan like Allen’s, he will provide an anchor in the Nets interior defense that was missing with the departure of Brook Lopez. Allen and Mozgov paired together can match Lopez’s production both on the defensive end as well as offensively. In letting Lopez go, it allows the Nets to let Allen grow into a big man that has the potential to have an overall game similar to Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.
Although not expected to make a huge splash in his rookie campaign, Aleksander Vezenkov offers the Nets a foreign born prospect that can stretch the floor and provide immediate offense when given the chance. Vezenkov had previously entered the 2015 draft and then decided it was best for him to withdraw, even with his highly projected first-round talent that year. With Vezenkov returning to Europe to polish off his game, he was able to keep his draft stock relatively high and work on his craft of three-point shooting. Vezenkov may wind up as a draft-and-stash player that the Nets hold off on sending out onto the floor immediately. However, it would not come as a surprise if we see Vezenkov hovering on the perimeter in Brooklyn at some point this season.
DeMarre Carroll was one target that the Nets were able to land and place onto this Nets team that shows potential. After the Nets signed Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. to an offer sheet, the Nets had to remain sitting before they could leap for joy as Washington had the chance to match Brooklyn’s offer. They did. Almost immediately after that had happened Carroll was being sent over to Brooklyn.
The Toronto Raptors agreed to a deal sending Carroll, a protected lottery pick, as well as a second rounder in the 2018 NBA Draft to the Nets in return for center Justin Hunter. Carroll is a proven veteran who can provide valuable minutes and give the Nets a sort of edge and an identity that they have been searching for. In his last few years with Atlanta and Toronto, Carroll has been given the task of guarding some of the toughest small forwards in this game and has solidified his effectiveness as a pesky wing defender. It is a low-risk high reward move that could go a long way into guiding Brooklyn into the right direction.