COMMENTARY | On paper, the Brooklyn Nets have one of the most impressive collections of individual talent in recent memory.
There's a former MVP in Kevin Garnett. There's a former NBA Finals MVP in Paul Pierce. Along with the other projected starters, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, there are a total of 35 All-Star game appearances.
So what's to worry about? Here are five big concerns for the Nets entering the 2013-14 season:
1. Age May Be Before Beauty
The resumes are dazzling, but the birth certificates of many of the Nets are yellowing. Garnett is 37 years old. Pierce and Terry are 36. Reserve Reggie Evans is 33. Johnson and Kirilenko are each 32. Alan Anderson is 31. Williams is 29. The youngest starter, Lopez, is 25 and has had three surgical procedures on his right foot, the most recent to replace a screw holding the foot together.
The impetus will be on new coach Jason Kidd, himself just three or so years older than Garnett at 40, to manage the minutes carefully so that this long-in-the-tooth group has something left when the calendar rolls over to May and, perhaps, June.
2. Does Their HMO Still Cover All of This?
Garnett missed 14 games last season because of ankle injuries. He also missed six games the previous year, 11 in 2010-11, 13 in 2010-10, 25 in 2008-09 and 11 in 2007-08 due to various ailments. The last time Garnett played at least 80 games was in 2004-05, when he appeared in all 82 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Pierce, meanwhile, has been more durable, but he missed five games last year with an ankle problem of his own. Williams is currently out nursing (what else?) an ankle injury (more on that in a bit), an injury that has lingered the last three seasons, costing the point guard 17 games in 2010-11 and 11 in 2011-12.
And Lopez? Well, he missed all but five games of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season because of the broken right foot that is being held together by the new screw ... the one that had to be replaced because the last one bent. Lopez is a big guy at 7-feet and 260 pounds, but those surgical screws are really not supposed to bend.
Throw in that Kirilenko has never been a poster child for durability during his NBA career and that backup point guard Shaun Livingston almost had his career ended because of a horrific knee injury in 2007 and, yes, there are some health concerns.
3. Will This Bunch Need those Little "Hello, My Name Is ..." Tags?
The Nets' projected lineup is Garnett and Pierce at the forwards, Lopez at center with Johnson and Williams in the backcourt. Fine. Dandy ... except for the fact that this group of five has played precisely zero minutes together to this point.
Garnett and Pierce played together in Boston for six years. Williams and Lopez have played together, off and on, for the Nets for the last three seasons. Johnson has been with Williams and Lopez for a season now.
That's not the same thing as playing together.
Remember when the Miami Heat brought their version of the "Super Friends" together in 2010? Dwyane Wade missed all but a couple of minutes of the preseason with an injury. Then on opening night, he was forcibly reunited with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
The most talented team in the NBA started 9-8 before things finally began to jell. And the Brooklyn Nets aren't the most talented team in the NBA.
4. Can Coach Kidd Coach Guys Who Aren't Kids?
Jason Kidd retired as a player and less than a week later was hired to coach the Nets. Somewhere, Patrick Ewing hurled objects at the wall upon hearing that news. But, seriously, Kidd's going to be under a microscope as he makes the rapid transition from one of the guys to the guy in the lead chair on the bench.
Can he effectively manage minutes? Can he get a group of players who have all been alpha dogs at one point or another to sublimate their individual heroics for the greater good? Does he have a system? Can he manage a rotation? Does he know how to work the clock and use his timeouts properly?
Kidd was a tremendous game manager as a point guard. Ask Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas how that skill translated to being a head coach.
5. Is There Enough Depth Up Front?
Looking at the Nets' cast of big men is fun ... at first. Garnett. Lopez. But it gets more problematic from there. Reggie Evans, the guy who rebounds big and does little else. Andray Blatche, the guy who saved his career last season, but still is the player the Washington Wizards thought so much of that they paid him $23 million to go away.
And those are the good guys among the Brooklyn bigs.
There's also Mirza Teletovic, the 28-year-old Bosnian who played just 9.4 minutes a game last year and there's Mason Plumlee, a rookie from Duke -- that school with such a tremendous track record of sending bigs to the NBA (let's see, there was Elton Brand and ... yeah, that's about it).
There is depth galore on the wings in Brooklyn. But the big-man situation could get dicey fast if No. 1 (age) or No. 2 (injury) on this list rear their ugly heads.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the Brooklyn Nets, New York Yankees and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brooklyn Nets
- Deron Williams
- Kevin Garnett
- Jason Kidd
- Paul Pierce
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Brook Lopez