Last night began a new era in the history of the Nets; one that ownership and fans alike are hoping has much more success than their last few years. The Nets were one of the busiest teams this offseason and enter 2012 with an improved lineup. Here’s a quick fantasy outlook for their main fantasy-relevant players.
Deron Williams-Point Guard
Williams is a perennial first-round pick and this year will be no exception. He flourished last year as a scorer in the Nets free-flowing offense under Head Coach Avery Bradley. He averaged 8.7 assists last year with 21.0 points. With an improved cast, Williams could easily average 20-10 while maintaing more than a steal and a three per game averages.
He and Chris Paul are the top point guard options in the draft since they both offers incredible balance across the stat sheet. He’ll probably score less than Russell Westbrook but give you more assists. On the other hand he won’t reach the gaudy assist numbers of Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo, but offers way more consistent scoring. He and Paul are one and one-A so don’t be disappointed if you land later in the first round since Williams is definitely a great center-piece for any Fantasy Basketball format.
Joe Johnson-Shooting Guard
Johnson’s transition from Atlanta to Brooklyn will be fascinating to watch. His versatility had made his outputs uneven throughout the year as some games he was asked to score in bunches, others to run the point, and even to focus more on the defensive side of the ball some games. He finished last year averaging 18.8 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 3-pointers, and 0.8 steals per game.
The key to improving those numbers will be playing in the backcourt alongside Williams instead of Jeff Teague. Johnson should be able to at least reach those averages and maybe get a slight bump in threes and his shooting percentages while seeing his assists drop a bit. Overall, he’s still a top 10 SG, but no longer a first or second round round pick.
Gerald Wallace-Small Forward
“Crash” Wallace re-signed with Brooklyn for the next four years this off-season. In a perfect scenerio, Johnson, Williams, and Lopez can handle the bulk of the scoring and let Wallace grind out his numbers with lockdown defense and occasional drives to the basket. Wallace has struggled in the past when asked to carry an offense, but can fill up a stat sheet with nice balance in points, boards, assists, steals, and blocks if he doesn’t have to jack up shots non-stop.
The last time he spent a full season with the same team was 2009-2010 with Charlotte where he averaged 18.2 points and 10.0 rebounds a game. He may not be able to quite return to that level of production, but is still a valuable Small Forward to pick up in the fifth or sixth round of your draft as you try to fill in multiple categories with box-score stuffers like Wallace. Health is definitely a concern with Wallace, but don’t think he’s done quite yet.
Kris Humphries-Power Forward
Humphries also re-signed with the Nets and is coming off a career year in which he averaged 11.o rebounds and 13.8 points along with 1.2 blocks per game. Much of his offensive increase was due to the absence of Brook Lopez, but with a healthy Lopez and an improved roster expect Humphries to contribute a double-double on most nights but closer to 10-10 than 14-11. He’s not a top 10 power forward, but he’s just on the outside of that top tier.
Brook Lopez is a beast and if he can stay healthy he’ll be a top-ten center option with the possibility of becoming an elite power down low. He had been healthy before his injury struggles last year limited him to just five games, so I love Lopez’s value in drafts where he’s falling all the way to the sixth or seventh round.
His last healthy season was 2010-2011 when he averaged 20.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. He isn’t an elite rebounder so try to make sure your roster had boards coming from other places if Lopez is your starting Center. That being said, I think Lopez is lined up for a great bounce-back campaign as part of a greatly improved roster. He’s a great mid-round steal with huge upside is he can return to pre-injury form.
MarShon Brooks-Shooting Guard/Sixth man
Brooks struggled with injuries his first year but averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in his rookie campaign. He should provide the Nets with scoring off the bench and is a decent end-of-the-draft flier pick although his ultimate role still remains to be defined. Brooks proved last year he can score on the NBA level so he’s worth a roster spot especially in deep leagues if you’re hunting for points.
C.J. Watson-Point Guard
Watson probably won’t get enough time behind Williams to merit ownership, but does offer scoring for deep leagues and its worth noting his move from Chicago in case Williams goes down with an injury.
Mirza Teletovic-Power Forward
Teletovic is an interesting Ryan Anderson-type forward who has the ability to stretch the floor and hit the three. He led the Euroleague in scoring, but hasn’t played in the NBA so he’s definitely an unknown. He’s a deep sleeper on a decent team and could have value at some point this season for his ability to hit long-distance shots from a power forward position that normally doesn’t contribute to that category. Monitor his progress and be ready to add him on a short-term basis if he starts to earn time in the rotation.
Barring an injury apocalypse, I think the Nets make the Eastern Conference playoffs in their first year in Brooklyn. The key to making a run will be the health of Lopez and the transition of Johnson to his new team. I could easily see them as the three seed in the east, but think it’s more likely that they end up around four or five and advance one round at the most before being eliminated.