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NBA Team Previews: #8 Brooklyn Nets

8) Brooklyn Nets 49-33 in the 2012-2013 season. 4th in the East. 2nd in the Atlantic. 

There seems to be a new look to the Nets this year. Brooklyn decided to revamp their image by making a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Now with the Nets looking to make a serious run at the title with the mix of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, the Boston pair and young center Brook Lopez. Can the group mesh together well? Can the talents of each individual player compliment each other? There are big expectations for the Nets, who are trying to overtake the Knicks for kings of the Big Apple.

Acquired: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Andray Blatche, Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson

Drafted: Mason Plumlee (#22)

Lost: Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, C.J. Watson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries

Depth Chart:

Starters: Deron Williams (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Kevin Garnett (PF), Brook Lopez (C)

Bench: Andrei Kirilenko (SF), Alan Anderson (SF), Jason Terry (SG), Shaun Livingston (PG), Andray Blatche (PF)

Team Stock:

Up: Brook Lopez - Brook Lopez lacked any help inside last year, but getting KG should help him out quite a bit. Lopez has been in the lump of top centers in the league not named Dwight Howard, yet you gotta think the addition of Garnett and Pierce will help him get more open looks this year. This could be a huge year for Lopez, and it probably will have to be if the Nets look to be threats to the Heat out East.

Down: Deron Williams - It's been a tough road on the Nets for Deron. Since he was traded to Brooklyn in the 2010-2011 season, Williams has not gotten past the first round of the playoffs and has dealt with multiple injuries. With the new talent on the team, there are big expectations for this team and Deron to get back into his old form. He will have to if this team has any chance of getting farther in the playoffs than just the first round.

X-Factor: Paul Pierce - This team really lacked a "crunch time" scorer last year. Williams was struggling and Johnson couldn't stay consistent all year. Pierce brings that to this team. He's known for being able to hit big shots late in the game. He helped the Celtics win one title, and can be absolute lethal when he needs to be. The Nets need that, and Pierce will fill out a complete starting lineup for Brooklyn. Could be a very dangerous team. However...

Question to Ponder...What's the plan for Brooklyn if Pierce and KG don't work out?

So they took a big shot this year by trading for Garnett and Pierce for a big run at the title. Every starting lineup player is a threat to dominate a game. However the luxury tax issue gets tricky when you look at this team after KG and Pierce most likely retire in the next 1-2 years. This team is already paying Lopez, Williams and Joe Johnson an insane amount of money, and lack a real bench to help this team out. It's a very tricky situation for a team who could be willing to pay the insane tax penalties anyway. Even without KG and Pierce's contracts, it will be difficult for Brooklyn to afford any other real talent in the future to help out the younger core of the team, when the older core moves on with their careers. 

Bold Prediction for the Brooklyn Nets: Brook Lopez will be the best Center in the East and 2nd team All-NBA!

I am expecting a monster year from Lopez. Before, he really didn't have anyone to help space him out in the paint, other than Deron Williams and the occasional hot streak from Joe Johnson. But now with KG and Pierce on the squad, Lopez will have much more room to operate inside and be a dominating force. He has an incredible amount of potential and talent. Last year he averaged over 18 points per game, yet really lacked in his rebounding, only averaging just under 7 rebounds a game. Now with Garnett to help him on the glass, I like Lopez's ability to go after more rebounds. The conference has a lot of quality Centers in such players as Al Jefferson, Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert and Al Hoford, yet I would expect Lopez to make himself known around the League with a monster year.

Projected Record: 54-28 4th in the East, 1st in the Atlantic.