The Brooklyn Nets are all-in for the 2013-14 season. How will this play out? We go 5-on-5:
1. Fact or Fiction: The Nets have the best starting five in basketball.
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.com: Fiction. On paper, the Nets have a very talented starting five. But let’s see it on the floor before we start handing out superlatives. For the moment, Miami holds the right to all of the “best” titles, including the only one that truly matters in the NBA.
Jeremy Gordon, Brooklyn’s Finest: Fiction. If it’s where each individual player might fall within the ranking of his position, then sure — you can make an argument that the Nets have a top-10 player at every spot. But it’s still the sum that ultimately matters, and this Nets starting five needs to play at least one game before they make any designs on the top position.
Michael Wallace, ESPN.com: Fiction. On paper? Yes. It’s hard to out-fantasy that unit of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. But dig a bit deeper based on recent evidence, and there are some serious concerns with each one of those players, from age to consistency. Until the Nets prove their value on the court, it’s all fiction.
Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: Fiction. They have the most high-profile starting five, I would agree with that. We need to see them play together to have a feel for how they define their roles. There are two All-Stars from last season in the lineup. The Heat had three All-Stars in their lineup, the Bulls have two and get Derrick Rose back, the Clippers have two, the Rockets have two, the Knicks have two, the Thunder have two, and the Spurs have two. There are a lot of excellent starting lineups, let’s wait and see.
Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPNNew York.com: Fiction. Few can match the name recognition, and there will be nights when they look like an All-Star squad. However, Jason Kidd’s starters may not even play a ton together for much of the season because he has to regulate Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s minutes. And there isn’t one Nets starter who’s in the top two at his position.
2. Fact or Fiction: KG and Pierce are still All-Star caliber players.
Forsberg: Fact. With Boston’s 2007-08 squad as a guide, the Nets ought to expect a downturn in individual production from all of their stars as they assemble, but Garnett and Pierce still can make a case for the midseason exhibition. Garnett, a fan-voted starter last season, rebounded like an All-Star in the postseason and his defense remains a game-changer, while Pierce’s all-around efforts help him garner consideration annually.
Gordon: Fact. When they play, that is. Last season, Garnett averaged his lowest minutes count since his first year; Pierce, in his career. Their per-36 stats remained the same and the Celtics were better with them on the court, but Jason Kidd managing their minutes should keep them off the All-Star squad, barring some unexpected collapse from the rest of the competition.
Wallace: Fact. But only based on fans voting them in as starters. Otherwise, they’ll have a difficult time at this stage beating out LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and possibly Josh Smith at those dynamic frontcourt spots. If Brooklyn lives