Since being traded to the Nets during the offseason, Kevin Garnett hasn't exactly had the most glowing things to say about coming to Brooklyn.
It's no secret that Garnett did not want to leave Boston and only did so because he was leaving with Paul Pierce as the Celtics began their rebuild after the "Big Three Part 2" era. Garnett was an amazing Celtic and will go down as one of the best bigs and teammates of all time. He deserves to be happy and in a place where he can compete for another championship before he hangs up his hightops. It looks like he may finally be shaking off the shock of the trade and starting to get comfortable in Brooklyn.
Kevin Garnett: "I'm just fascinated with being on a team with so much talent."— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) October 15, 2013
Garnett has been on some talented teams before. Of course, the 2007-08 Celtics were pretty stacked with the likes of Garnett, Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and James Posey. The Boston rosters after that season weren't too shabby either. The 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves were pretty dominant with Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell and The Big Ticket joining up to finish with the best record in the Western Conference with 58 wins.
Those teams were all very good, but in terms of sheer talent, this Brooklyn Nets team could be the best Garnett has ever been on. That statement comes with a huge caveat: if healthy.
Here's a breakdown of the team's starting five and key bench players:
Deron Williams: When healthy (the first on the long list) Williams is arguably a top-5 point guard in the league. He's averaged double-digit assists four times in his 8-year NBA career and never scored less than 18.7 ppg since his third year playing professional basketball. The biggest knock against Williams is the guy seems to be hurt quite often. He doesn't miss many games, but Williams seems to always be playing hurt. In fact, Williams is entering this season with ankle issues which could cause him to miss the first few games.
Joe Johnson: This guy can drop 40 without blinking, but he can also completely disappear and is not known for being "the guy" in big moments. Either way, the guy's scoring ability is elite as his 16.3 ppg last year for Brooklyn was his smallest average in the last 10 years. Johnson isn't really suited to be the number one scoring option on a title team, but a more than capable second or third option.
Paul Pierce: Pretty sure you know what this guy is about. Very versatile. Makes plays in lots of different ways. He's not as athletic nor the defender he used to be, but Pierce can still score at will, create his own shot and dish quite well for his position. With either Johnson and Pierce as the team's second and third scoring option, the team should get plenty of buckets.
Kevin Garnett: This isn't your fathers Big Ticket, but Garnett is still a leader and captain of the defense. You'd be hard pressed to count on two hands the number of big men in the league who are as good as Garnett is right now, at age 37, at help defense. Garnett's ability to lead a defense will automatically make the Nets a better defensive squad, which is a huge upgrade on its own. Garnett has also honed his mid-range jumper which opens up the lane for the main scoring options on the floor, of which there are a few.
Brook Lopez: Lopez is coming off of his first all-star season. While the 7-footer is not nearly as good of a rebounder as he should be, career high of 8.6 in 2009-10, Lopez is a top-10 offensive center with a sweet jumper and averaging over two blocks per game last year is a nice boost.
Bench: This team has some serious weapons on its bench. Andrei Kirilenko is a very talented, super versatile wing who could easily start on over half the teams in the NBA. Andray Blatche has all the talent in the world, but barely shows it. Who knows what having Garnett barking in his ear all season will do for him. Reggie Evans is an elite rebounder, something every title contender needs on its bench. Jason Terry also came over in the Boston trade and while he was nothing to write home about last season, it could have easily been a fluke or simply a case of Doc Rivers not using him correctly. It would not be a surprise at all if Terry comes into this season dropping the clutch threes that he's been known for over the past several years.
The biggest issue this team is going to have to overcome is injuries. Williams is hurt all the time, Garnett and Pierce have shown the wear and tear on their bodies over the past few years with nagging injuries popping up here and there and Lopez missed all but five games in 2011-12 with a broken right foot.
But if this team is good to go come playoff time, watch out. It's surprising that so many are dropping the Nets to fourth or sometimes fifth on their Eastern Conference rankings. This team is more talented than the Chicago Bulls and has way more playoff experience than the Indiana Pacers, with just as much talent. The hardest thing for any team that's going against them will be figuring out who to stop. If they shut down Williams, Pierce is a good enough passer to get the other players involved. Joe Johnson can't be ignored and with Garnett and Lopez shooting jumpers the opposing team will have no one in the paint to stop Williams, Pierce, Johnson or Kirilenko from having a field day driving past their defender.
It would be an amazing series if the Nets played the Heat as Miami would have the best player on the planet and a very nice supporting cast with a couple other all-stars of their own against a team that, outside of health, has no real weaknesses. I'm not saying the Nets should be favorites in the East, but they will be right there in the hunt. Fascinating indeed.
@ericblaisdell13 Eric Blaisdell 10/16/2013 08:59:00 PM Tweet Edit