Ever since acquiring the Brooklyn Nets, owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not been shy with spending his money. This summer the team inked several long term multi-million dollar deals with players such as Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. They are now practically stuck with their current core of players, but the question of how far this team can go still lingers.
The Nets’ investment has already paid off in some ways. Only last year, the team was still in New Jersey and finished with a 22-44 record in the lockout season. The 2012-13 campaign has been more rewarding to the franchise, which moved to Brooklyn and is currently clinging on to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Williams struggled to find his way for most of the season and even missed out on the All-Star game. Lately, the point guard that is viewed as the franchise centerpiece has stepped up his game and put up several impressive performances. At the same time, a relatively healthy Lopez has been carrying a huge load for the team. His offensive game has always been refined, but it is his effort defensively that has truly blossomed this year.
Even with the massive strides this team has already made, it is hard seeing them going deep into the playoffs. A lot can still change in terms of seeding, but the Nets are quite likely going to be up against either Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks in the first round. If they get past the first round, they are probably going to play the Miami Heat, who would be heavily favored to win the potential series.
While Lopez and Williams have both stepped up, Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson have not quite found their ways with the team. Johnson has struggled with injuries and is averaging only 16.4 points per game, his lowest figure since the 2002-03 season.
At this point, the Nets are a solid playoff team who are no pushovers,. However, they are not quite good enough to be considered title contenders.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis