The Brooklyn Nets made a big trade this offseason, acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics in an effort to become a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. They also added veterans Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston in free agency, so it may be a challenge for new coach Jason Kidd to find enough minutes to keep everyone happy.
Here is my fantasy basketball preview for the Nets, broken down by position.
Brook Lopez is the starter here and is coming off an excellent season (19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game over 74 games). He had surgery in June to replace a screw in his surgically-repaired right foot, but there does not seem to be any lingering issues as the season nears. Lopez is a rare Net that is in his prime (25 years old), and as long as he stays healthy similar production to last season should come and he should be among the first 5-10 centers off the board in most drafts.
Andray Blatche averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as Lopez’s backup last year, but without more playing time (19 minutes per game) he is not roster-worthy in any fantasy league.
Rookie Mason Plumlee looks likely to spend most of the season in the D-League, but he is a name to file away in keeper leagues.
Garnett averaged less than 30 minutes per game for just the third time in his career last season, but he did fill the stat sheet solidly by averaging 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and just under a blocked shot per game in 68 games played. At 37 durability is a perpetual concern for “The Big Ticket”, but he can still make an impact in fantasy leagues and could be a relative value on draft day for owners that leave name recognition aside and wait to draft him.
Reggie Evans started 56 games for the Nets (80 games played total) last season, and averaged 4.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He should see a fair amount of playing time behind Garnett, but not enough to be on the fantasy radar at the start of the season.
Pierce and Kirilenko are both likely to see time here, but Pierce could see time at shooting guard and Kirilenko could see minutes at power forward depending on the lineups Kidd uses. Pierce is still a very capable scorer (18.6 points per game last season) and contributed well in other categories last year (6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game), but with a likely reduction in playing time in Brooklyn his fantasy stock is in decline.
Kirilenko could be a multi-category contributor if he stays healthy and sees enough minutes, which are both far from guaranteed, so fantasy owners can ignore him at this point.
Alan Anderson averaged 10.7 points per game for the Toronto Raptors last season, but it would be a huge surprise if he sees similar playing time (23 minutes per game) with the Nets this year.
Joe Johnson averaged below 17 points per game (16.3) last season for the first time since the 2003-2004 season, and his recent decline in assists (3.5 per game) and rebounds (3.0 per game) continued. Johnson’s role as Brooklyn’s starting two-guard is essentially unchallenged, which takes away some of the potential downside, but at age 32 his days as a substantial fantasy producer look to be over.
Terry may see time at both guard spots, but his status for the start of the season is in doubt as he comes back from left knee surgery. Add in his decline in scoring (10.1 points per game last year), and the risk far outweighs any upside.
Deron Williams fought through injuries last year to play in 78 games and put together another very good season (18.9 points, 7.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and one steal per game). He has yet to play this preseason due to recurring ankle issues, which has his status for the start of the season in doubt. Williams is quickly becoming a risky fantasy option with constant durability questions, so those that draft him need to make sure they have another point guard on their roster they can rely on.
Shaun Livingston has made a nice comeback after a severe knee injury back in 2007, and he has a chance to carve out some short-term fantasy value if Williams misses time, but he is unlikely to make a significant impact for fantasy owners this year.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.