Are the Brooklyn Nets bound to miss the Playoffs?

new-jersey-nets-miss-playoffsThis past offseason, the Brooklyn Nets made some huge free agent acquisitions to vault themselves among the NBA’s elite teams…or so it seemed. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov was pretty clear that he wanted to compete for a championship now, so GM Billy King went out and got Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko.

However, these moves were costly because the Nets gave up several draft picks, leaving them with just one draft selection between now and 2018. In addition to losing the picks, Brooklyn also has the highest payroll in the league at $102.2 million, along with an $87.2 million luxury tax – bringing their total to $187.4 million.

So with a third of the season now finished, what have they gotten for all of these expenditures? A 9-18 record, which is tied for third in the Atlantic Division. Things have been ugly beyond just the record too. Rookie head coach Jason Kidd seems in over his head, and he had a large role in super-assistant Lawrence Frank’s demotion. His locker room speeches are far from inspiring too, as you can see from the following gem that he delivered after the Nets’ blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers:

Well I think it is getting very close to just accepting losing. We are kind of getting comfortable with losing. And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in and most of the time right now we do.

jason-kidd-new-jersey-coachKidd’s rough coaching introduction and King trading away Brooklyn’s future doesn’t even begin to cover everything that’s wrong here. The team’s early season MVP, Brook Lopez, is now sidelined with a broken foot. This means the team will have to replace 20.7 PPG, 6 RPG and 1.76 BPG. Brooklyn has also sorely missed an injured Andrei Kirilenko, who’s played just 57 minutes this year. His bargain-basement signing this offseason is what truly worried the defending champion Miami Heat. But there’s nothing to fear when Kirilenko can’t stay on the court.

Even those who have been on the court have underachieved. Pierce is scoring just 12.6 PPG and shooting 40.2% from the field. Nobody expected him to play like he did a decade ago. But Pierce is really struggling to fit in with his new team. Garnett is even more disappointing, averaging just 6.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG and shooting a dreadful 37.5% from the field. At 38 years old, you have to wonder if KG is now on a steep decline.

Joe Johnson (16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG) and Deron Williams (12.5 PPG, 7.6 APG) have both been solid thus far. But these two alone aren’t capable of leading a team to the NBA title. So if they don’t get some help from the supporting cast soon, you have to wonder if this overly expensive team is headed for the draft lottery.

What’s sad is that, even if they do get a lottery pick, the selection will belong to the Atlanta Hawks (via Joe Johnson deal). So it basically looks like it’s postseason or bust for this team. Their best chance currently resides in passing some of their foes in the awful Atlantic Division. Toronto currently leads the Atlantic with an 11-15 record, while Boston holds the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed with a 12-17 record. Boston is 2 games ahead of New Jersey, while Toronto is 2.5 games ahead of them.

Assuming Brooklyn can’t overtake either of these teams and grab a playoff berth, this could mark one of the biggest disasters in NBA history. After all, who wants to pay $189.4 million for a lottery pick that you won’t get to use anyways?

Dissecting the NBA All-Star Game Selections

Most of us could care less about how the NBA All-Star Game turns out. After all, this annual no-defense fest is much like the recently-released film Movie 43 – a bunch of big-time stars making cameo appearances in a tacky and shameless form of entertainment. Sure there are always a few good alley-oops and street ball moves; but does this make up for the 5-10 embarrassing mistakes that players collectively make while trying to show off?

Okay, so now that you understand our take on the All-Star Game, it’s worth mentioning that being selected to the game is definitely an honor. And the NBA recently released the list of everybody who received a nod. Of course, there were also a few deserving players who didn’t get picked for this prestigious contest. This being said, let’s take a closer look at who did and didn’t make the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.

Eastern Conference Roster

(Starters)
LeBron James F, Miami Heat – 9th appearance, 26.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.1 APG
Carmelo Anthony F, New York Knicks – 6th app., 29.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG
Kevin Garnett F, Boston Celtics – 14th app., 14.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Rajon Rondo G, Boston Celtics – 4th app., 13.7 PPG, 11.1 APG, 1.9 SPG
Dwayne Wade G, Miami Heat – 9th app., 20.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

(Reserves)
Kyrie Irving G, Cleveland Cavaliers – 1st app., 23.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.8 SPG
Jrue Holiday G, Philadelphia 76ers – 1st app., 19.0 PPG, 9.0 APG, 1.4 SPG
Tyson Chandler C, New York Knicks – 1st app., 12.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Joakim Noah C, Chicago Bulls – 1st app., 12.2 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Luol Deng F, Chicago Bulls – 2nd app., 17.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Paul George F, Indiana Pacers – 1st app., 17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG
Chris Bosh F, Miami Heat – 8th app., 17.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG

Western Conference Roster

(Starters)
Kobe Bryant G, LA Lakers – 15th appearance, 29.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG
Kevin Durant F, OKC – 4th app., 29.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Chris Paul G, LA Clippers – 6th app., 16.6 PPG, 9.7 APG, 2.6 SPG
Dwight Howard C, LA Lakers – 7th app., 16.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.5 BPG
Blake Griffin F, LA Clippers – 3rd app., 18.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG

(Reserves)
Russell Westbrook G, OKC – 3rd app., 22.7 PPG, 8.1 APG, 1.9 SPG
James Harden G, Houston Rockets – 1st app., 25.8 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.9 SPG
Tim Duncan C, SAS – 14th app., 17.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.7 BPG
Tony Parker G, SAS – 5th app., 19.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, 0.9 SPG
LaMarcus Aldridge F, POR – 2nd app., 20.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG
David Lee F, Golden State – 2nd app., 19.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.7 APG
Zach Randolph F, Memphis Grizzlies – 2nd app., 16.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 0.5 BPG

Biggest 2013 All-Star Game Snubs

Looking at the list of players who were selected to this year’s All-Star contest, you can definitely see that most (if not all) of these guys deserved a spot. However, there were a few skipped-over players who could’ve made a strong case for their inclusion.

The biggest snub in the Western Conference has to be Stephen Curry, who’s truly been a complete player with 20.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 45.1% from 3-point territory. While David Lee has definitely helped the Warriors exceed expectations thus far, many believe that Curry is the true catalyst of this team. That said, it’s no wonder why Curry’s coach, Mark Jackson, was angry about Stephen not getting picked.

After Curry, it’s hard to find a true Western Conference snub, but Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka had an outside chance. Gasol does a lot of intangible things in addition to averaging 13.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.8 BPG. Ibaka has really improved his offense this season and is averaging 14.0 PPG on 56% shooting. Plus he’s chipped in his usual 8.3 RPG and 2.8 BPG.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, many people are outraged over Brook Lopez being left off the roster. Not only does the Brooklyn Nets standout average 18.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.1 BPG, but he also leads the East’s third-best team. Many people have speculated that coaches didn’t vote Lopez in because they didn’t like how the Nets fired coach Avery Johnson.

The Indiana Pacers’ Paul George may have earned his first All-Star selection at the expense of teammate David West. The Pacers usually go to West when they need a crucial basket, and he provides veteran leadership….along with 16.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.0 BPG.

Paul Pierce definitely deserved a reserve role on the All-Star team as well; he’s averaging 18.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.4 SPG. However, Pierce was affected by the fan vote since people stuffed the ballots for his teammates, Rajon Rando and Kevin Garnett. It’s likely that coaches didn’t think the Boston Celtics deserved three All-Star players since they’re currently 20-23 and eighth in the East.

One more player who we think could’ve earned an All-Star nod is Brandon Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks point guard has put up 18.6 PPG, 6.0 APG and 1.93 SPG for the East’s seventh best team. However, he also shoots just 40.5% from the field, so this could have been a reason for leaving him off the squad. The same goes for his teammate, Monta Ellis (18.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 1.81 SPG), who shoots a similarly-low 40.3%.