Nets bring new expectations to new home
by Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY Sports
BROOKLYN — As the Brooklyn Nets continue to romance the NBA and the outer boroughs of New York City with their splashy new arena, the star power of part owner Jay-Z and top-selling all-black merchandise, the question remains: how good will the Nets really be?
Will the Nets be all style and Junior’s cheesecake fluff? Or can they be in a contender in their first season east of the Hudson River?
To be sure, these are no longer New Jersey’s Nets. With nine new players on the roster, and key players like Brook Lopez back from injury, Brooklyn could be an Eastern Conference contender. Or more, according to guard Joe Johnson. “I think we got a chance to win the whole thing this year,” Johnson said Monday at the team’s media day. “I’m not just saying that. I honestly believe it.”
How quickly team chemistry forms will be key. So how long will it take before everyone is on the same page? “8.2 days,” point guard Deron Williams said, sarcasm already in mid-season form. “You never know how fast a team will come together. I think our veteran leadership will help.”
Last year the Nets went 22-44, 12th in the Eastern Conference. The last time they made the playoffs was 2007. So there’s good reason why Brooklyn is embracing change and high expectations. After all, it certainly beats the alternative.
“The goal is to win a championship,” said coach Avery Johnson. “I couldn’t say that … the last two years. We weren’t there on any level. … Are we a championship team now? No. But do we have the potential to be one? Absolutely.”
So much is new about the Nets, the franchise is nearly unrecognizable, especially when it comes to perception. “It’s been transformational,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark told USA TODAY Sports. “Really, we only moved 13 miles. People are consuming our brand, they’re wearing it, they want it. Sales have exceeded expectations. Our merchandise … [For more on Brooklyn Nets bring new expectations to new home, click here.]