No Sleep ‘Till

Boasting+a+9-4+record+and+new+turf%2C+the+Brooklyn+Nets+seem+to+be+primed+to+make+a+run+at+the+playoffs.++But+do+they+have+what+it+takes%3F

Boasting a 9-4 record and new turf, the Brooklyn Nets seem to be primed to make a run at the playoffs. But do they have what it takes?

by Patrick Dowling, Sports Editor

A new era of professional basketball has started in a previously fallow borough of NYC. The Nets finally made the move to Brooklyn (after years of discussing it), and they came out of the gates firing faster than anyone would have expected. After twelve games, their record stands at 9-4, and they have the best defense in the league (up to this point). They battled the New York Knicks for the first time tonight and came out on top in overtime, however, the matchups towards the end of the year will be more decisive on which is the dominant team in the Big Apple. The Nets are looking sharp, but they’re still coming together.

The new look Nets have gotten off to the same exact start through twelve games that the Miami Heat did when the “Big Three” came together in the 2010-2011 season. The Nets offseason moves did not immediately gather together a Big Three like past great teams have done (Miami, Boston, Los Angeles Lakers), but at this point in the season perhaps they have done just that: Deron Williams (point guard) and Joe Johnson (shooting guard) have solidified their places as All-Stars in this league, and the Nets seem to have another elite player.

Although many recognize him as a weak rebounder and a soft spot to this Nets starting lineup, Brook Lopez has proved all of this wrong; he is leading the teams so far in points per game. Although it is obviously a very small sample size, Brook Lopez has been an elite center. Lopez is second in scoring for centers up to this point, only Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat is ahead. He has shown that in crunch time he can be a go-to-guy, as he put away the Clippers earlier this year on multiple cosnecutive baskets in the first quarter.

Nets General Manager, Billy King, had looked to get rid of everything this offseason. The Nets only retained one player from the Nets team of three years ago (Brook Lopez) and have made many moves since acquiring Deron Williams from the Jazz at the trade deadline of the 2010-2011 season. Last year, they traded for all-star small forward Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline and Wallace resigned with the Nets this offseason. Kris Humphries, one of the NBA’s leading rebounders, also signed a two year deal to come with the Nets to Brooklyn.

The two biggest moves that obviously shaped the Nets lineup was the huge trade for Joe Johnson. The Nets had been shopping for Dwight Howard for years trying to commit Deron Williams to join the Nets long term, and realized they were on the short end and would not acquire Howard. King realized he had to do something quick or else Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Wallace would all be gone. Out of seemingly nowhere the NBA world hears that Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks will be moving to Brooklyn for almost the entire Net bench, sending away annual jokes Jordan Farmer, Anthony Morrow, and Johan Petro among others. Williams would decide to stay with the Nets just days after that, immediately making the Nets title contenders.

The Nets play this season hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, and in the back of everyone’s minds a shot at the title lurks. Watching this season play out and seeing how the Nets perform will be exuberating for a fan of a dead franchise. Perhaps Mikhail Prokhorov’s promise for a title for the Nets within his five years of owning the team will come true.