Brooklyn Nets: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett Must Improve to Save Season

By Pavle Kisin-Rajlic
Kevin Garnett
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It was sunshine and daises for the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason as the team seemed poised to challenge the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls for Eastern Conference supremacy.

Along with a two-time NBA MVP and 15-time All-Star in Kevin Garnett, the team also brought in 10-time All-Star Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and 2008-2009 NBA Sixth Man of The Year Jason Terry to spark an offense that just seemed to be missing that extra gear last season. The consensus was that with the star power present on this team of both old and new blood, the old of the team could take a backseat to the young until playoff time rolled around.

Thus far, injuries have basically all but washed that dream down the drain. Sitting at 3-9 on the season, that preseason plan is no longer an option if the Nets wish to correct the early season tailspin they’ve entered. Not only will injuries force this team to play their more experienced veterans major minutes until the ship is righted, the heavy onset of injuries all but make it a necessity.

Truthfully, what other choice do they have at this point?

With Deron Williams and Brook Lopez nursing ankle injuries, Kirilenko dealing with a troublesome back injury that has already required an epidural injection and Terry sitting hobbled on the sidelines, the young blood on the team, at least in terms of the major talent, has been shelved.

Pierce and Garnett were brought into the fold to push the Nets over the top in the Eastern Conference, something both were more than willing and able to prove. That said, with the Nets most likely on the cusp of asking for them to save the season, are the pair prepared to do more than they were expected to provide at this advanced stage of their careers?

So far, the answer seems closer to a ‘no’, something that no Nets fan wants to hear at this point.

Garnett, the former two-way force for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics, has looked about as ordinary as the Big Ticket has looked at any point in his NBA career. With his bread-and-butter mid-range jump shot looking anything but automatic and a 36.1 percent shooting percentage, the effectiveness of Garnett has all but disappeared on the offensive end — at least for the time being.

To believe we’d see Garnett averaging 6.7 points per game once seemed absurd, but no longer.

As for Pierce, the 36-year-old, while no longer able to carry an offense like he could earlier in his career, has looked equally pedestrian through the early portion of the season. Going into this season, the plethora of options on offense was supposed to make everyone’s job easier, free up open jump shots and eliminate the need to force the issue.

While the averages of 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists were not far off what the Nets expected of their newly acquired small forward during the regular season, they expected a more efficient player than they have seen thus far. Simply put, as a top-10 small forward in the NBA, Pierce should not have any excuses for shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 25.6 percent from long range.

Sports fans seem to bent on echoing the notion that “age is just a number” and that with enough mental strength, heart and determination, even the oldest amongst elite athletes can achieve greatness. Last season, we saw the perfect example of such a thing with Tim Duncan, at 37, arguably having one of his best overall seasons ever.

So why not expect such from Garnett and Pierce, especially on a team as talented as the Nets? For the stake of the Nets’ season and prospective title hopes, the pair must stop acting their age.

Pavle Kisin-Rajlic is a Chicago Bulls writer for Follow him @Gambitguru77, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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