Ever since the Brooklyn Nets made their blockbuster deal to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics they have been put into the discussion of the NBA’s top teams. Over the next few weeks here at Brooklyn Nets 101 we will break down how the Nets compare, on paper, to some of the top teams in the NBA.
While the Nets have their eyes set on an NBA championship this season, one of the big questions of this off-season is whether or not they are even the best team in their own city? The Nets and the New York Knicks have a blooming rivalry that should get even more interesting this season, with Garnett now being in town the year after he and Carmelo Anthony got into it on the court. The teams will be battling for a top 4 position in the Eastern Conference standings; here is a breakdown of the key matchups.
Point Guard- Deron Williams v.s. Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton had his ups and downs last season and finished with a pretty solid statistical season but Williams is one of the top PG’s in the NBA and with the talent now configured around him he could put up MVP numbers.
Shooting Guard- Joe Johnson v.s. Iman Shumpert
The Knicks have a number of different options at shooting guard but right now the likely starter will be Shumpert and they will bring J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. off of the bench. Shumpert is an athletic freak but struggled last season after coming off of an injury. Meanwhile Joe Johnson is the Nets’ starter that people are not talking about. If Johnson can learn to accept his new role as a shooter he can flourish in this offense. But he has always been a player that needs the ball in his hands and strived in an Iso offense.
Look for Shumpert to have a breakout season this while it is likely Johnson will struggle with his new role, so the slight edge goes to Shumpert.
This will be the matchup that could very well decide which team wins the season series. While it is clear that Anthony is the much better player at this point in their careers, the Nets cannot allow Anthony to take over offensively. Strong team defense will be the key to slowing down Anthony and in turn the Nets winning the series.
Power Forward- Kevin Garnett v.s. Andrea Bargnani
It’s a very intriguing matchup that deals with two very different players. Garnett will dominate Bargnani in the post and on the boards. He will likely struggle if he has to defend Bargnani on the perimeter. It is unlikely we will see these two spending a lot of time defending one another when the season starts. The advantage goes to Garnett because Bargnani has never developed into a complete player and leaves the Knicks even more vulnerable defensively.
Center- Brook Lopez v.s. Tyshon Chandler
A year ago this was a much bigger debate than it is today but Chandler’s play drastically declined this year while Lopez is a player on the rise. Despite Chandler’s capable defensive abilities, the younger, more skilled Lopez should do quite well in this matchup.
Bench- The Knicks were able to bring back, reigning 6th man of the year, J.R. Smith and backup point guard Pablo Prigioni in free agency. They also added Metta World Peace and Tim Hardaway Jr this off-season, and Amare Stoudemire is still on their roster, even though he hasn’t been able to stay on the court long enough to be a factor.
The Nets bench is one of the best in the NBA. They brought back Andray Blatche and added Shaun Livingston, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee, creating a ton of depth and versatility.
Smith and Hardaway are very streaky players who could make or break the season for the Knicks and gives the Knicks the advantage over the Nets in terms of bench guards. But the Nets forwards and bigs are far more proven and Kirilenko and Blatche are starters on most NBA teams.
Bench Backcourt- Knicks
Bench Frontcourt- Nets
This should be a competitive series all year but if the Nets are healthy they should have a slight advantage.
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