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2015-16 Season Preview: Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)


The Brooklyn Nets have had quite a busy summer, but as the 2015-2016 NBA season gets underway, there are few who believe the Nets will be as competitive as they’ve been in recent years.

The Nets finished with a 38-44 record last season, sneaking into the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.  They were defeated by the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in six games, launching them into an offseason filled with uncertainty.  Both general manager Billy King and head coach Lionel Hollins felt that the team needed to become younger, and more athletic, and they believe they’ve accomplished that. Starting with the draft, they selected Chris McCullogh with the 29th pick and acquired Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (the 23rd pick) from the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee.

Arguably the biggest move of the Nets’ offseason was letting go of Deron Williams.  The former All-Star point guard was bought out of the remaining years of his deal with Brooklyn, allowing him to sign with his hometown Dallas Mavericks as a free agent.  They kept their starting frontcourt intact, locking up free agents Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young to multi-year deals. After nearly being traded by the Nets several times, Lopez now finds himself as the franchise cornerstone.  Brooklyn then filled out its remaining roster with unproven veterans such as Thomas Robinson, Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin, and Wayne Ellington.  Robinson and Bargnani are former lottery picks.

Brooklyn believes that a starting lineup of Lopez, Young, eight time All-Star swingman Joe Johnson, point guard Jarrett Jack, and Bojan Bogdanovic will be enough to quiet the naysayers and compete in the East.  The Nets have no incentive to dismantle their roster and fall into the lottery because their 2016 first round draft pick belongs to the Boston Celtics, as a result of their 2013 trade for future Hall-of-Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  Johnson’s expiring contract bears watching, as the Nets could ship him to a contender at the trade deadline if things are not going well.

While the Nets have made the Eastern Conference playoffs for three years in a row, getting back there for a fourth season is far from a guaranteed thing.  Several teams who finished lower in the standings than the Nets last season are much improved, and they could be battling the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, and even the New York Knicks for the final one or two seeds.

Hollins is back on the bench for his second season in Brooklyn.  This is relatively big news, considering the Nets have had four head coaches in three seasons since moving to Brooklyn from New Jersey back in 2012.

If Young and Johnson stay healthy and effective, the Nets could find themselves back in the postseason.  With that said, the Nets’ success this season rests mostly on the shoulders of Lopez.  If he is up to the task, the Nets will be a lot better than the disaster most pundits are predicting them to be.  Contributions from the likes of Larkin, Bargnani, and Robinson might also bolster their chances.

Prediction: The Nets won’t make any big trades in order to keep their salary cap space intact for next summer and finish the season with a 35-47 record, narrowly missing the playoffs.

The Brooklyn Nets are set to open up their season at home on Wednesday, October 28 against the Chicago Bulls.

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Jason Goldstein is a co host of the Baseline Jumper NBA podcast, recording every Tuesday night along Ben McDonald. Jason has also spent time as the Basketball Editor at while also handling the Brooklyn Nets Lead Writer duties since October 2015.
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