Having done the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, next up in the Eastern Conference is the Brooklyn Nets.
Jarrett Jack G
Joe Johnson G
Bojan Bogdanovic F
Thaddeus Young F
Brook Lopez C
Key Bench Players:
Wayne Ellington G
Dahntay Jones G/F
Shane Larkin G
Thomas Robinson F
Andrea Bargnani F/C
Deron Williams (waived and picked up by Dallas)
Kevin Garnett (traded last season to Minnesota)
Brook Lopez C
The Brooklyn Nets finished last season with a record of 38-44, good enough for 8th place in a weak Eastern Conference. However, the Nets found themselves making the NBA Playoffs against the 1-seeded Atlanta Hawks, who bounced the Nets in a six-game, first round series. Ending the Nets "hopes" of winning the NBA Championship.
Brooklyn added a guy last season to their starting lineup who could make a key contribution, Thaddeus Young. Young averaged 13.8 PPG in 28 games (20 starts) with Brooklyn, overall he averaged 14.1 PPG in 76 games (68 starts) between Minnesota and Brooklyn. The 27 year old has had a hard time finding consistency in the NBA in terms of minutes but when he's played, he's played very well. And I could see him sliding into a bottom-seeded Nets squad and really making a contribution.
Brooklyn has made some key moves to add depth to their bench as well, signing Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Andrea Bargnani, and Thomas Robinson. On the other hand, they lost two key veterans, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett. While Kevin Garnett is at the end of the line and wasn't a top contributor to the Nets team last year, losing a hall of famer with experience in the NBA Finals and just knowing how to win is something that could cost your team in the long haul. As for Deron Williams, he got hit with a couple injuries that limited him to 68 games out of the 82 game season. But even when he was in the lineup, he wasn't a go-to player in the clutch and has always had problems turning the ball over.
The guy to look out for this season is Brook Lopez. The first round pick out of Stanford back in 2008 is entering his age 27 season (turns 28 on April 1) and appears to be the number one option on this year's Nets team. Last year, Lopez averaged 17.2 PPG in 72 games (44 starts) in a bounce back year following a foot injury that limited him to just 17 games back in the 2013-14 season. If Lopez can stay healthy, I could see him being an All-Star while averaging north of 20 PPG. If he's hurt, there is no chance Brooklyn will make the playoffs.
I see Brooklyn finishing with roughly the same record they did last season, maybe improving a couple of wins (40-42). They will likely finish between the 6-8 seed in the Conference based on the availability of Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson over the course of the season. I don't see them moving on pass the first round, considering they'll likely run into Cleveland or Atlanta.