2017-18 NBA team season preview: Brooklyn Nets
All eyes will be on D'Angelo Russell this season. Photo: Brooklyn Nets NBA

2017-18 NBA team season preview: Brooklyn Nets

The new look Brooklyn Nets are younger and with little expectations this season they are hungry to prove themselves. With the face of franchise Brook Lopez traded, newly acquired D'Angelo Russell now has the keys to the franchise and a chance to make an NBA team truly his own.

Andy Hernandez

The Brooklyn Nets wanted to making a splash in 2012 when the team made their move to a new city and arena. Ownership was sold on making win-now moves in order to build a team that would grab attention which resulted in the Nets making several trades that have jeopardized their future mostly by forfeiting draft picks. However since the hiring of new general manager Sean Marks in 2016 it was clear that the Nets organization realized their plan was a failure and had to move in a different direction.  

The 2017 NBA offseason marked the beginning of many dramatic changes for the Nets. The Nets traded the face of the team in Brook Lopez, who broke the franchise's career scoring record at the end of the 2016-2017 campaign. In addition the Nets added other young and veteran pieces creating a new look for the team heading into the 2017-2018 season. 

Free Agency Trade/Signing Additions

The Nets first move in the 2017 offseason was most notably their biggest move which involved trading Brook Lopez and the 27th pick of the 2017 draft to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for the young D'Angelo Russell and veteran center Timofey Mozgov. Russell is only 21 years of age and had fallen out of favor with the Lakers organization. Given his youth and talent the Nets saw this a worthwhile risk especially due to a recent lack of top draft picks. Obtaining this potential reward came a price though, in this deal the Nets took on Mozgov's $48-million in committed salary over the next three years and surrendered another draft pick which turned into Kyle Kuzma. 

Russell and Lin expected to lead Brookyn's backcourt I Photo: Instagram JLin7
Russell and Lin to lead Brookyn's backcourtPhoto: Getty Images

In a separate deal a few week later the Nets made another trade, this time with the Toronto Raptors, which involved sending out back-up center Justin Hamilton for veteran swingman DeMarre Carroll, a lottery-protected 2018 first rounder, and a second round pick. This trade was basically a salary dump for Toronto since they needed to shell out Carroll's remaining $30.2 million contract for the next two years. However with the departure of Brook Lopez the Nets needed to continue adding leadership to a young team. Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson was an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks during DeMarre Carroll's most successful NBA seasons, therefore it's also a reunion accepted by both with open arms. 

In the 2016 offseason the Nets offered Allen Crabbe a $75-million offer sheet which was later matched by the Portland BlazersThe Nets were persistent and added Crabbe in a trade a year later when the Blazers need luxury tax relief. The Nets traded Andrew Nicholson for Allen Crabbe. The Nets will owe Crabbe over $52 million over the next three years but the Nets will save $6 million annually from trading Nicholson's contract which ran through 2019. 

Sharp-shooter Allen Crabbe posing in Nets jersey I Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
Sharp-shooter Allen Crabbe posing in Nets jersey. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

The Nets 2017 offseason was highlighted by trades and not many signings were made apart from the signing of Tyler Zeller just a few weeks ago for the league minimum. Zeller signed a two-year contract with the second being non-guaranteed and he will offer front-court depth at the center position. 

The Nets made some two-way signings for their G-League squad the Long Island Nets. Players that will join the Brooklyn Nets in training camp and preseason include: Milton DoyleJeremy SenglinAkil Mitchell​Yakuza Ouattara, and ​Jacab Wiley

NBA Draft

In the 2017 draft the Nets had the Washington Wizards' 22nd pick from the Bojan Bogdanovic trade made before the 2017 trade deadline and selected 19 year-old center from The University of Texas, Jarrett Allen. Allen is expected to share backup center duties this season and may spend time in the G-League.  

In 2018 the Nets will not have their first-round pick, it's the last they owe from the Boston Celtics trade. However if the Toronto Raptors make the playoffs in 2018 the Nets have their pick from the DeMarre Carroll trade. 

Depth Chart

PG: Jeremy Lin / Spencer Dinwiddie / Isaiah Whitehead

SG: D’Angelo Russell / Caris LeVert / Sean Kilpatrick

SF: Allen Crabbe / DeMarre Carroll / Joe Harris

PF: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson / Trevor Booker / Quincy Acy

C: Timofey Mozgov / Jarrett Allen / Tyler Zeller

Levert and Hollis-Jefferson will play big roles I Photo: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Levert and Hollis-Jefferson will play big roles. Photo: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

2017-18 Season Prediciton

The Nets team is new even though only a handful of additions were made. But in theory it can be said that the Nets could have at least three new starters in their line-up this season compared to last season.

Offensively this team on paper should not struggle to put points on the board. It should be a high paced offense with Lin and Russell both pushing the ball aggressively which is something that was slightly more difficult to implement last season with Brook Lopez who thrived playing a paced half-court game. Scoring in the form of three-point shots should also be expected with almost every player on the roster capable of shooting the ball. 

Defensively I do expect the team to struggle especially since Nets are undersized at the power forward position. In the first preseason game of the season, the 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis bullied himself past the Nets defense.

With a weakened Eastern Conference no one can predict which teams will make the playoffs other than the obvious top three or four teams. With that said Nets should have a chance to slip into the playoffs but that would be exceeding everyone's expectations. This season it's not about wins or losses, it's more about progression just like last season. If the younger players like Russell, LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson, Dinwiddie, Harris and Allen show signs of growth then the season should be considered a success and a step in the right direction.