NBA 2023-2024 Preview: The Brooklyn Nets’ Post-KD Era

Brooklyn Nets NBA Preview 2023 2024

As the race heats up to crown the successor to the Nuggets as NBA champions, we delve into each of the league’s 30 teams over the month. Today, we shift our focus to the Brooklyn Nets, now spearheaded by the talented Mikal Bridges after a mid-season trade involving superstar Kevin Durant.

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2022/2023 Recap: A Brief KD-Kyrie Era and the Emergence of Mikal Bridges

The 2022-2023 season marked a significant overhaul for the Nets. What began as a powerhouse trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and under the leadership of Steve Nash (and for a brief stint, inclusive of James Harden) saw a dramatic shift. After a series of losses in November, Steve Nash was shown the door, making way for Jacque Vaughn, who had been part of the coaching staff for years, to take the reins.

Come February, the winds of change blew stronger as longtime friends Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant departed from the New York franchise. Irving set his sights on Dallas, while Durant took off for Phoenix. In return, the Nets acquired the promising Mikal Bridges and the sharpshooting Cameron Johnson. Despite the commendable efforts of the new duo and their coach, the Nets lacked the gravitational pull of a bonafide star, finishing the season 6th in the Eastern Conference.

Their playoff run mirrored their season struggles. Facing off against the formidable Philadelphia Sixers, Vaughn’s squad was swiftly and decisively swept (4-0). Nic Claxton showcased his growth as a credible center in the league, averaging 12.6 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Yet, the offensive prowess of the Sixers quashed any glimmer of hope for the New York side.

Offseason Moves and Roster Breakdown: Brooklyn Nets 2023-2024

Departures

Moses Brown, Seth Curry (to Mavericks), David Duke Jr (to Sixers), RaiQuan Gray (to Suns), Joe Harris (to Pistons), Patty Mills (to Rockets), Nerlens Noel, Dru Smith, Edmond Sumner (to Suns), Yuta Watanabe (to Suns), and Alondes Williams.

Extensions

Cameron Johnson.

New Arrivals

Draft picks Noah Clowney (21st pick), Dariq Whitehead (22nd pick), and Jalen Wilson (51st pick, signed on a two-way contract). Additionally, the Nets have added Trendon Watford, Darius Bazley, Lonnie Walker IV, Dennis Smith Jr, and Armoni Brooks (on a two-way contract) with Harry Giles also joining the roster.

Projected Starting Five

Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cameron Johnson, Nic Claxton

Bench Rotation

Point Guards

Ben Simmons, Dennis Smith Jr, and Armoni Brooks.

Shooting Guards

Cam Thomas and Lonnie Walker IV.

Small Forwards

Royce O’Neale and rookie Dariq Whitehead.

Power Forwards

Darius Bazley, rookie Noah Clowney, Trendon Watford, and two-way signee Jalen Wilson.

Centers

Harry Giles and Day’Ron Sharpe.

The Brooklyn Nets, post their big roster shake-up, now look to a mix of young talent and experienced players to guide their 2023-2024 season. With a core group led by Mikal Bridges and supported by players like Dinwiddie and Claxton, they’re aiming to re-establish themselves as contenders in the East.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Brooklyn Nets 2023-2024

Weaknesses

Experience Gap

Under the guidance of Jacque Vaughn, the Nets are noticeably lacking in seasoned players. Even though Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson have experience from their Suns’ 2021 journey, the departures of veterans like Joe Harris and Patty Mills have left a void that’s yet to be filled. This deficit could be palpable throughout the season, despite having players like O’Neale and Finney-Smith on the roster.

The Ben Simmons Dilemma

Will Ben Simmons be on the court and, if so, in what shape? The former Sixers’ star concluded the 2022-2023 season sidelined. He voiced his preference to play as a point guard during summer and showed eagerness to start the season at his best. If he gets back to his prime form, especially offensively, he could be a significant asset for the Nets. However, any deviations from this could put his hefty $38 million season contract under the spotlight.

Roster Depth Concerns

The roster might not be lacking in numbers, but there’s certainly a concern about depth in terms of quality. Cam Thomas showcased his prowess last season but also displayed inconsistency. If Bridges plays as a guard, wing rotation could be a challenge. Relying heavily on rookies, like Dariq Whitehead, can be dicey. The 22-year-old swingman’s recent foot injury and physical readiness is uncertain. Coach Vaughn has significant restructuring to do, with much being undefined as the season commences.

Strengths

Young Talent

Coach Vaughn has a promising foundation of emerging talents. Rookie Noah Clowney, though raw, has the potential to carve a niche for himself in the roster, especially in a position that’s currently lacking depth. Cam Thomas, at 22, can provide the spark off the bench, becoming a key asset for the Nets. And not to forget, Nic Claxton, who continues to enhance his game and increasingly stamp his mark as a solid NBA center.

Building From Scratch

With the exits of superstars like Durant and Irving, the Nets have chosen a fresh path of reconstruction. After being part of an arms race for the title, the team’s strategy is now centered around building a youthful roster. While they might not be seen as favorites or even dark horses for the championship (more on that in the forecast), this approach could mean less pressure on the franchise, allowing them to develop organically.

Player to Watch:Mikal Bridges

Central to the Kevin Durant trade, Mikal Bridges only got to showcase his talent in 27 games with the New York franchise. Yet, in that short span, he managed to assert himself as the primary offensive weapon, racking up an impressive 26.1 points per game. Previously overshadowed by Devin Booker in Phoenix, the 27-year-old is now under contract with the Brooklyn Nets until 2026. This move signifies the faith the franchise’s management has placed in him, especially given the fact they held onto Bridges even after Damian Lillard voiced his departure desires. Known as a relentless hard worker during his Suns tenure, Bridges also took part in the international campaign with Team USA this summer—a stint that often acts as a springboard for NBA players.

End-of-Season Prediction: 7th in the East

Predicting the Brooklyn Nets’ exact placement at the end of the regular season can be a challenging task. Led by Mikal Bridges, the New York-based franchise will likely lean heavily on the offensive genius of the former Villanova star, who demonstrated great durability with 83 NBA appearances last season. With Cameron Johnson securing a 4-year extension worth 95 million dollars, he too will be a key offensive asset in Coach Vaughn’s scheme, supported by versatile players like Finney-Smith and O’Neale. While making the Playoffs is the goal, advancing past the first round seems like a tough challenge for the Brooklyn Nets.

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