While many may think that the Houston Rockets were the most active team this off-season, they are, in fact, wrong. The Brooklyn Nets, without a doubt, have made the biggest splash since the 2012-13 season ended.
They’ve added a new coach in Jason Kidd, and a whole new arsenal of players, including Boston Celtics legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Andrei Kirilenko to their roster.
Let’s take a look at the new acquisitions and the implications they could have on the Nets upcoming season.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett
On draft night, the biggest surprise wasn’t that Nerlens Noel failed to go first to the Cleveland Cavaliers; it was that the Celtics completed a mega-deal with the Nets that sent Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and a bunch of draft picks.
It was extremely surprising that Pierce – the unquestionable captain of one of the greatest NBA teams – agreed to potentially end his career in a uniform other than the Celtic green and white. Pierce spent 15 years with Boston, sticking through some of the worst seasons and cementing his place in Celtic lore.
While not terribly athletic, Pierce has time and time again proved that he can compete with the best players in the league. Pierce is an all-round player, who averages six RPG and five APG in his 15-year career. He brings immediate scoring and floor spacing to the Nets (something Wallace never did), as well as a strong leadership presence in the locker room.
However, Pierce is coming up on his 36th birthday and is at the fag end of his career. It remains a huge doubt if he can average 35-plus minutes every game, especially on previously injured legs that have seen over 1200 games.
‘The Truth’ also shot a dismal 43% from the field last season, and on a team with Garnet, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Kirilenko, he isn’t going to get the same number of shots he’s been used to getting.
To be effective, Pierce is going to have to pick his shots more carefully and learn to impact the game through his overall play. His PPG is sure to drop next season, but hopefully he can make up for it in the rebounds and assists column.
Initially, my first thoughts about the move were rather negative. Pierce is well-loved by Bostonians and it’s not like he hasn’t won a championship ring before. This move wasn’t a necessity, despite the departure of coach Doc Rivers to Hollywood, as Pierce still has one of the league’s top three point guards in Rajon Rondo.
However, after thinking it through, I’ve realized that it isn’t a bad trade. It is clear that the Celtics will not be title contenders this season, and most likely, for the remainder of Pierce’s career. He leaves playing with Rondo to play with another one in Williams. If he can adjust his game accordingly, he can have a positive effect on the Nets and elevate their chances of competing with the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference title.
The arrival of K.G. makes much more sense and is completely beneficial to the Nets. The only downside, similar to Pierce, is his age. At 37, K.G. is on the last legs of his hall-of-fame career.
However, his play is still at an above-average NBA level and he will bolster the Net’s frontline this upcoming season. Well-known for his trademark physicality and hustle, K.G. will give 110% effort every game and is certainly an upgrade from Humphries.
Similar to Nets centre Lopez, Garnett is a dependable mid-range shooter. This will allow both Lopez and Garnett to draw their defenders out of the paint and allow the other to operate inside. As both K.G. and Lopez boast an impressive arsenal of post moves, this combination can prove to be deadly during the upcoming season.
Garnett also hasn’t lost his defensive intensity, as the former Defensive Player of the Year (2008) can still shut down opposing players for extended periods of time. While his rebounding numbers have fallen off from his career high of 13.9 in 2004 to 7.8 this last season, the presence of Lopez and Kirilenko should make up for that as both are excellent rebounders.
Both Pierce and Garnett are well-respected players and command a strong locker room presence. The only worry is that their arrival could cause dissent amongst the previous leaders of the team, specifically Williams and Lopez.