Look no deeper than the Brooklyn Nets‘ current roster to find the future of the team.
General manager Billy King has definitely made some questionable decisions over the past few seasons. However, a masterful plan that he could possibly be engaged in right now would classify him as a basketball genius. A risky and rare course of action appears to be undertaken by Brooklyn right now. In the NBA, as like other sports, teams want to either be contenders, or be in complete rebuilding modes. However, King seems to be combining the two, allowing the Nets to compete and have success, while at the same time he is quietly rebuilding the team and doing a splendid job.
The Nets are in a tough financial hole, to the point where they were unable to even go after moderately priced free agents during this offseason. Yet King may have managed to pull off the impossible. With a big three of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, Brooklyn will have a good shot at being near the top of the Eastern Conference in the 2014-15 season, and the season after that. Still, without being noticed, King is rebuilding the team and finding hope for the future out of an utterly hopeless situation.
After the 2015-16 season, the Nets will have a ridiculous amount of money to spend, with Williams being the only player with a large salary under contract. By then, some players on the current team might blossom and the future core will unfold, all due to King’s sly workings. It is well known that the Nets have gotten much younger this offseason, but here is a breakdown of why the future is already on the team.
First of all, Lopez is only 26 years old. He has established himself as one of the best offensive centers in the entire NBA. His defense and rebounding abilities have shown signs of improvement, and assuming Lopez can remain healthy, he will continue growing into a dominant big-man for many years.
Mason Plumlee was a pleasant surprise last season. Thanks to injuries, Plumlee got his chance and made the most of his opportunities. Although last season’s rookie class was weaker than usual, Plumlee made the All-Rookie First Team and has a promising career ahead of him. Learning behind Lopez and Kevin Garnett for at least one more season will be very valuable for Mason’s development. He has stated that he is working on expanding his game to feature a larger offensive repertoire. In two years time, Plumlee has an excellent chance of becoming a great overall big-man, and thus start alongside Lopez to form a superb 4-5 combination.
Bojan Bogdanovic, 25, is joining Brooklyn after being one the best players in Europe. The transition to the NBA may be difficult, but there is no denying Bogdanovic has an amazing skill set. Once he adjusts, he could be a great wing player for the Nets with his abilities to do it all on the court. Also, Mirza Teletovic is beginning to turn the corner, and is primed for a breakout season. Teletovic can flat-out score from everywhere, and is under 30 at 28 years old.
Markel Brown played four seasons at Oklahoma State, so he should be ready to perform instantly. Brown was a major scorer, averaging over 17 points on a team last year that had the sixth pick in the draft in Marcus Smart. Brown is a fantastic athlete with a wide-range of skills. He is explosive, has a stellar jumpshot with solid range, and is a pesky defender. Brown could turn out to be a big second-round steal, and possibly the Nets’ shooting guard of the future after Johnson leaves. In addition, Brooklyn recently acquired forward Sergey Karasev, a first-round pick last year who could start making an impact a few years down the road.
Tying it all together, the Nets currently have a nice mix of veterans and young assets with potential to be great players. They can compete with the East’s best teams this upcoming year, but are at the same time rebuilding for the future.
Williams, Brown, Bogdanovic, Plumlee and Lopez likely will not be a championship starting lineup in 2016, but Brooklyn will have the money to sign big-name free agents to solidify the roster. It is way too early to determine if what Billy King may be attempting will be successful, but it sure will be fascinating to watch how this all unfolds.
Jordan Berkowitz is a Brooklyn Nets and NBA writer for RantSports.com