How The Brooklyn Nets Rose To Contender Status In The NBA

By Mark Wilson
Brooklyn Nets
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets must be looking at their roster as half empty, half full. When the team was assembled this offseason,  their prognosis was championship or bust. They managed to get Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Shaun Livingston and Andrei Kirilenko. Two of those players are first ballot Hall of Fame inductees, while the others were considered washed up.

With star studded players already on the roster, such as Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, this was shaping up to be a dominant team. But nothing went according to plan as the season started. The Nets finished 2013 with a dismal record of 10-21 with little hope of sniffing the playoffs. Many thought they would be better off trading off Garnett and Pierce for future draft picks and begin tanking the season away for a high lottery pick.

But the Nets are a veteran team who never gave up on themselves or the season. Jason Kidd decided he needed to shake things up after Lopez went down with a season ending injury. He took a look at his roster and figured the team was fit to play small ball. Garnett seemed to be rejuvenated defensively as the starting center while Pierce started to thrive as a play-making power forward. Williams slowly rounded into form and Johnson made enough big shots in January to earn an All-Star selection.

The biggest improvements came from those so-called has beens on the roster. Shaun Livingston began to resemble the point guard prodigy who was recruited by every top college in the nation before deciding to go pro. Andray Blatche found out that he could be a good player once he focused solely on basketball. Alan Anderson played inspired ball coming off the bench during the Nets’ winning stretch, but has since cooled off once the Nets acquired Marcus Thornton.

As of Mar. 23, the Nets are 36-31. They have a chance to get as high as the third seed in the conference, and have a 3-0 record this season against the two-time defending champs Miami Heat. While all the talk is about the Indiana Pacers and the Heat, the Nets have managed to carve out a place in the conversation as one of the NBA best.

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