5 Ways the Brooklyn Nets Can Become Contenders in the East

5 Ways the Brooklyn Nets Can Become Contenders in the East

Deron Williams Brooklyn Nets
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets were one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference prior to last season. After a 49-win season, the Nets acquired Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, propelling the team to the top of the conference on paper. However, after a terrible start, a second-round loss in the playoffs, and the departure of head coach Jason Kidd, here is how Brooklyn can become a contender in the East this upcoming season.

5. Brook Lopez needs to stay healthy

Brook Lopez Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

5. Brook Lopez needs to stay healthy

Brook Lopez Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Brook Lopez missed a significant portion of the season for the second time in three years. When healthy, Lopez is an elite offensive center and his defense was improving before his latest injury. On offense he has a full repertoire consisting of amazing post- and mid-range games. Lopez has to stay healthy for the Nets to be successful. They can go to him to score when a basket is needed, and his presence down low was severely missed vs. the Heat.

4. Lionel Hollins has to implement a system that works

Lionel Hollins
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

4. Lionel Hollins has to implement a system that works

Lionel Hollins
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

A problem with the Nets last season was the lack of a system. No matter how talented a roster is, a contending team needs a system to get the most out of its players. Under Kidd, the veteran-filled roster appeared to coach itself at times. Lionel Hollins represents stability, and will excel in the East, which overall plays at a slower pace than the West. He has to implement a system in Brooklyn that benefits Brook Lopez and emphasizes defense.

3. Joe Johnson needs to be efficient and consistent

Joe Johnson Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

3. Joe Johnson needs to be efficient and consistent

Joe Johnson Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout last season, Joe Johnson was a rather streaky player. During some stretches of games he really struggled to score, but other periods of time he seemed able to score at will. In the playoffs against Toronto and Miami, Johnson put the team on his back with his outstanding efficiency and patience on offense. Brooklyn needs Johnson to play at that level consistently and be a go-to guy against the East's best teams.

2. Key contributions and quality production off the bench

Mirza Teletovic Brooklyn Nets
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

2. Key contributions and quality production off the bench

Mirza Teletovic Brooklyn Nets
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn without a doubt had one of the best benches in the NBA last year. With an older roster, when the starters needed breaks Kidd had no problem going to his back-ups for extended amounts of time. This season, led by Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Mason Plumlee and Jarrett Jack, Brooklyn's bench needs to provide the same amount of production as they did last season. As long as they are deep again, the Nets have a chance to contend.

1. Deron Williams returns to his old form

Deron Williams Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

1. Deron Williams returns to his old form

Deron Williams Brooklyn Nets
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Deron Williams is still the franchise player. Just a few years ago, Williams was considered one of the best point guards in the NBA with his rare ability to both score and pass at an elite level. When he is healthy, Williams can lead the offense and truly carry the team. Considering the recent successes of an abundance of young point guards around the league, Williams needs to return to his superstar status for Brooklyn to contend this season.

Jordan Berkowitz is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com

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