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Are The Brooklyn Nets Now Legitimate 2014 Championship Contenders?

When Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov promised fans of the team a championship by 2015, he probably had in mind trades just like the one that will become official on July 10 between the Nets and the Boston Celtics. That trade brings in a trio of veterans in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in exchange for a trio of first round picks along with players Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks. The price was high and there are serious questions as to whether it will be worth it. Is Brooklyn really ready to compete with Miami, Indiana and Chicago in the East, let alone win an NBA championship?

The starting line-up is certainly filled with big name talent. Deron Williams is still the star of the team playing at point guard, Joe Johnson and Pierce provide scoring punch at shooting guard and small forward respectively, while Brooks Lopez, the center, will benefit hugely from the presence of Garnett at power forward.

Last year’s team was probably a little too reliant on Williams and Lopez, especially with Johnson struggling to make an impact. Perhaps more importantly, it will be hoped that Garnett and Pierce bring the intensity and winning mentality that brought Boston so much success over the past five seasons. The pair have plenty of championship experience with an NBA championship in 2008, finals appearance in 2010 and a tough conference finals series against Miami in 2012.

Still, it is easy to see that there are some significant flaws in this plan. The team will still be hugely dependent upon Williams to emerge as a true superstar if it wants to contend. It will still need Lopez’s inside game and toughness to pick up significantly. It will still need Johnson to re-emerge as a legitimate scorer. It will now be hugely dependent on the health and fitness of two ageing veterans. Can Garnett and Pierce really both make it through a full season and play at the top of their games in the postseason? The perfect roster doesn’t look to be quite so perfect when viewed in this light.

Of even more concern for the Nets is the complete lack of depth on the bench. Garnett and Pierce in particular need constant spelling and if any injuries do occur to the starting line-up, there are significant questions about who steps in to fill their shoes.

This is still a flawed team. They are also preparing to play in what should be an extremely tough conference. Indiana were a tough team all season long and have a chance to upgrade their roster behind Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of Frank Vogel’s physical and bruising core. Chicago and Tom Thibodeau demonstrated their terrific defensive play, grit and determination without Derrick Rose last season. Well, in 2013-14, the Bulls will have the services of one of the NBA’s top point guards once again. Of course there is also the Miami Heat. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have just about been given the green light by Pat Riley to go for a three-peat and Ray Allen is also coming back.

Throw in the fact that this delicate balance and intense competition will all have to be dealt with by a new head coach, Jason Kidd, who was playing last season and has absolutely zero head coaching experience. Brooklyn has two seasons maximum to grab that championship based on their new core. The chances are that they won’t even reach the Eastern conference finals during that span.

Sebastian Egerton-Read

Seb has been writing about the NBA and basketball for nearly five years. He has written for a number of different sites and is currently lead writer of The5Hole.com and BasketballSchedule.net. Follow him on twitter @seberead

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