Not even close, based on early returns.
Read that sentence again. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about what setting to put on the panic meter for the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks and Nets are in last place. The Tankadelphia 76ers are in first place.
So there's still time, lots of it.
The Nets have a one-point win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat and a blowout win over the winless Utah Jazz. Wrapped around those are road losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards (in overtime) and a tightly contested loss at the Barclays Center to the undefeated Indiana Pacers.
Here's why the Nets are for real and things will get sorted out:
The rotation will stabilize
There are a lot of moving parts in the Brooklyn rotation right now. Twelve players are averaging at least 11.8 minutes per game. One player, Brook Lopez, is averaging more than 30 and he's only at 30.2 minutes a night. This team is still figuring out what it is, who does what and when they do it. Jason Kidd's only been on the bench for four of the six games because of a two-game suspension to start the season.
Brooklyn is still at the "Hello, My Name Is ..." Stage
Deron Williams, the point guard, missed most of the preseason with an ankle injury. That sort of stunted the cohesion process in a starting lineup with two new pieces in Garnett and Pierce. Joe Johnson is learning a new role, as well, evolving into more of a spot-up shooter rather than a black hole where the ball disappears for 12 to 15 seconds of each iteration of the shot clock.
Williams' injury limited him to 10 minutes in the preseason. He did spend those 10 minutes playing with Pierce. But Garnett was a DNP-coach's decision for that particular game, the one game Williams played in the preseason.
So let's give them a chance to get to know each other. It'll be OK.
Garnett will get better
Kevin Garnett is not an MVP-level player at this point in his career. But he's not a six-points, six-rebounds a night, 32.- percent shooter, either. He's off to a slow start. He's 37 years old, playing for a new team in a new city under a brand-new coach.
Garnett isn't even averaging half a game right now (just 23.2 minutes a game through the first six contests), so he's still getting his legs underneath him while learning a new group of teammates.
He's not an All-Star player anymore. That's clear. But he's still a solid power forward in the NBA and when all is said and done, he'll produce 12 to 15 points per game and get rebounds, defend like crazy and push the intensity meter off the scale.
The Nets are ridiculously deep
This team is just too deep to continue to struggle. Look at what the Nets can bring off the bench. Jason Terry, who won a title in Dallas two years ago, is a bench player with onions the size of bowling balls. He simply has no fear.
Shaun Livingston will not become the next Magic Johnson -- the knee injury he suffered in Los Angeles took care of that -- but he's a terrific backup point guard who still has a lot of athleticism. Andrei Kirilenko is a former All-Star. Andray Blatche turned his career around in his first year in Brooklyn last year, emerging as a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year contender. Alan Anderson would start for a lot of teams in this league, as would Reggie Evans. Rookie Mason Plumlee has done well in limited minutes. As long as Mirza Teletovic is left on the end of the bench to work on his Kent Bazemore towel-waving celebration skills, there's not a huge drop-off in talent when the starters come off the floor.
We're six games into the season with a new coach, two new starters and four new guys coming off the bench. Cohesion doesn't happen overnight. But it will happen for this group. There's just too much talent there to think it won't.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the Brooklyn Nets , New York Giants and New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of Golden Gate Sports and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Brooklyn Nets
- Kevin Garnett
- Jason Kidd
- New York Knicks
- Paul Pierce