It is no big secret that the Brooklyn Nets will be heading into this season with lower expectations than last season. The Nets’ starting lineup on opening night last year was widely considered as one of the best in league. Unfortunately, starting center Brook Lopez suffered a season-ending injury before Christmas while new additions Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett failed to contribute at the high level that fans had grown accustomed to throughout their careers. But I’m not here to complain about not living up to last year’s potential because it is time to move forward in Brooklyn!
The starting lineup has been shaken up a little bit and we need to know how the Nets rank in terms of each position amongst the entire league. This post will be focusing on the point guard and shooting guard spots and we will tackle the other three spots next week!
Deron Williams will once again have the keys to Brooklyn’s offense going into this season. The real question regarding Williams has to be whether he still has enough left in the tank to become an elite point guard in the NBA again? Frankly, the Nets would be fine with Williams simply being a top 10 player at his position. But the reality is; he’s not currently in the upper echelon amongst the NBA’s best place setters.
The top tier of NBA point guards includes (in no particular order) Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, healthy Derrick Rose and Tony Parker. The level below those superstars is made up of Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard. Then, we can sprinkle in the likes of Mike Conley, Eric Bledsoe, and Ty Lawson. Rajon Rondo is in one of those groups but we can’t be for sure until he stays healthy for a full year.
So where does Mr. Williams fall? Well, I think it is safe to say that the Nets and Billy King would do a trade for any of the above players if they were offered straight up for Williams. After doing some counting, that leaves Deron 14th at best. Close behind him are Isiah Thomas, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague. Hell you might be able to talk Michael Carter-Williams into that group after a few drinks. If you are a major Deron Williams hater, then you can put him between or behind that group led by Thomas.
That puts the Nets point guard between 14th and 18th. Yikes. Not exactly the spot that you would prefer when factoring in his salary. But it also can’t be forgotten that the point guard position is the deepest it’s been in years. Which makes it not that bad right? Right? Anybody agree? Never mind, it’s time to take a deep breath and stop thinking about that for a little while.
I am slotting Joe Johnson at the shooting guard position, even though there is a possibility that he could play a lot of minutes as the Nets’ small forward. It is ultimately up to Coach Lionel Hollins to decide whether to bring Jarrett Jack off of the bench or insert him with the starters. But for argument’s sake, Joe Johnson is the starting two guard in Brooklyn.
“Joe Cool” has earned the reputation for being one of the most clutch players in the NBA. His statistics down the stretch in close games flat out cannot be matched. He is 6 for 6 on field goals when there is 10 seconds or less on the clock and his team is down by 3 or less points. He simply elevates his game in big time moments. He has also been the most consistent player for the Nets since joining the club in the summer of 2012. But where does “Joe Jesus” fall in terms of all shooting guards throughout the league? (For the record, he is definitely number 1 if we are ranking players with the best nicknames.)
The shooting guard position used to be the deepest position in all of basketball but there has been a steady decline over the past few years as the stars have become larger in physical size and strength. But there are still a handful of players who really stand out as off-guards. The top of the list is led by budding superstar James Harden and is followed by (in no particular order) Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, and Klay Thompson. Oh yea and that Kobe Bryant guy is in that mix when he’s able to stay on the court. The next tier down is where Joe “Armadillo Cowboy” Johnson has to be included.
Johnson is surrounded by the likes of emerging young talents DeMar Derozan, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward along with veteran mainstays Manu Ginobli and Monta Ellis. The list can be argued after that with Jimmy Butler, Dion Waiters, Victor Oladipo and the first overall pick Andrew Wiggins all fighting to become big time assets to their teams.
So if my counting skills are on point that puts Joe “JJ” Johnson somewhere between 6th and 11th. It would be hard to put him all the way down at number 11, unless you really hold a grudge against the man for some reason. To be completely honest, he has the potential to be in the top 4 if Kobe and Wade are unable to stay on the hardwood.
It can’t be denied; Johnson is widely considered as an impact player for the Nets and can’t be forgotten about when talking about pure clutchness. He will be looked at to provide even more offense in Brooklyn this year after the departure of Paul Pierce and he has to be up for the task if he wants to reach the postseason.
Stay tuned for the rest of the Nets position rankings and comment below where you think Williams and Johnson rank among the rest of the league!