Brooklyn Nets: One Piece Away From Playoff Contention

May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks listens to Brooklyn Nets new head coach Kenny Atkinson answer questions from media during press conference at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets did all they could this offseason. They added a new coach, general manger, and retooled their entire roster. How close are they from contending for a playoff spot?

Though the Brooklyn Nets had a productive offseason, the media has not been very supportive of the rejuvenated roster. There are still doubts as to whether the Nets can actually see success with those players on the roster.

Evidently, the Nets have the right players that can take them to the postseason. They have a good mix of youth and veterans, which is crucial for the team’s success in the long-run. Jeremy Lin is a veteran that can immediately fill the void as the Nets’ starting point guard. Trevor Booker, Luis Scola, and Randy Foye will serve as important veteran presences in the locker room. Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead, Chris McCullough, and many other players bring down the age of the roster as well.

But exactly how close are the Nets to contending, and what are they lacking?

What Are the Nets Lacking?

Mar 5, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) reacts on the bench during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Lopez did not play. The Timberwolves won 132-118. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Though Brooklyn will certainly see improvement this season with new faces, the team is still lacking something that will make them contenders, according to the media. Each media publication interpreted this differently. Sports Illustrated claimed it to be star power. CBS ranked the Nets’ bench the worst in the league. NBA.com stated that the Nets lack a true franchise player.

What I would consider missing for the Nets in recent years is a supporting cast. Much of the offense revolved around Brook Lopez, and for good reason. Lopez has been the Nets’ most consistent player since he was drafted by the team in 2008. Though his career numbers of 18.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game are impressive, Lopez is more of a “quiet” star in Brooklyn. The Nets haven’t been able to get past the second round of the playoffs with Lopez on the team. Lopez just hasn’t gotten the proper help from his teammates.

Now, for the 2016-17 season, the Nets don’t necessarily “lack” this, but it has yet to be seen: chemistry. The team could pass as a much-improved team on paper, but it will come down to how well the players gel together. Nets fans can’t expect the team to perform well right off the bat, but they can hope that what the Nets are building will be long-term. We still have a long wait until opening night on October 26.

A Brighter Future

May 16, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks and new head coach Kenny Atkinson at HSS Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of what that missing piece is though, the Nets are set to have a far better season than last year. Coming off a 21-win season, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll do worse with a much better team.

Brooklyn added a stellar behind-the-scenes supporting cast in new general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson. Both Marks and Atkinson provide the proper experience needed to bring the Nets back to relevancy.

Marks threw all possible cards this offseason by attempting to bring restricted free agents Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson to the Nets. Though the moves failed after their respective teams matched Brooklyn’s offers, Marks was able to finish the offseason strong. The players added (Lin, Booker, Scola, and others) will certainly be key pieces on the team.

What makes Brooklyn even more impressive is that they were able to stay under the cap with their offseason moves. In terms of cap space, the Nets are left with $17,194,363, the third highest in the league, just behind the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets. If the Nets do well this season, they might be able to attract free agents to come to the lesser-desired borough of New York City.

Nevertheless, playoff contention isn’t that far away for the Nets. If the team surmounts all the doubts, it might be even closer than we think.

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