Either Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was influenced by a few too many British beverages before Thursday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks in London, or he’s just sadly misguided about his team’s future.
“I still think we have a chance to be a championship if, of course, stars align,” said Prokhorov before the Nets defeated the Hawks 127-110. “I think we like sport because it is really unpredictable. So it’s unpredictable, but possible.”
It isn’t Brooklyn’s 16-22 record that makes me think Prokhorov has forgotten which team he owns. Or the merciless blowouts they’ve suffered throughout the season that’s made 38 games feel more like 100.
It’s the fact that Brook Lopez went down for the season with a broken foot.
For all the star-power the Nets have assembled over the last few years in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, there’s no question that it’s Lopez, the 25-year-old drafted back in 2008, who is actually the heart and soul of this team.
As a seven-footer who can both play with his back to the basket and hit the outside jumper with regularity, Lopez is easily one of the most versatile centers the league has to offer. Until news broke that he would be out for the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign, Lopez was leading the team in scoring with an average of 20.7 points per game.
Lopez was the x-factor. The player who could give Brooklyn the advantage against the speed of Miami or size of Indiana in a seven-game series with his unique skill set.
Brooklyn can still be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference without him. But a championship team?
Prokhorov will need to wait at least another year.