Brooklyn is currently 10-4 and sitting atop the Atlantic Division—they have their victory over the New York Knicks to thank for that. So why not get excited? This is the team’s first season not only in the Barclays center, but together in general. Courtesy of injuries and trades, this is the first time that Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace are really playing together.
So again, why not get excited?
Because the Nets aren’t necessarily the real deal.
Obviously, going 10-4 to start the season is impressive and I won’t take that away from them. What troubles me, though, is that just four of their wins come against guaranteed playoff teams. One of those wins came against a Knicks team that was without Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire, another came against a Boston Celtics team that was without Rajon Rondo, and another came against a Celtics team that saw Rondo ejected.
In turn, three out of those should-be telling victories really don’t tell us anything at all, other than that Brooklyn has the potential to capitalize off a favorable situation. Though such a quality is the mark of a good team—and even great team—are the Nets really great? Have they done enough to prove to us that they’re legitimate contenders?
Less than 20 games into the season, a case can be made that no team has done enough to prove to us that their contenders. At the same time, however, we look at a struggling team like the Los Angeles Lakers—a team the Nets lost to—and we still see a contender. What makes the Nets different?
In short, not much. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lakers can contend for a title, but until they get Steve Nash back and figure out how to play to both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard’s strengths, I have my reserves about their potential to dominate.
Yet I have more reserves about the Nets, who have truly beat just one formidable opponent in the Los Angeles Clippers. And that’s nothing to downplay.
Victories against a depleted Knicks and impaired Celtics team, though, are. I want to see how the Nets fair against the Knicks at full strength, the Celtics at full strength. I want to see them lose by less than 30 points to the Miami Heat and avoid losses like they did against a decimated Minnesota Timberwolves squad.
Simply put, I want to see more, we need to see more before we can consider the Nets contenders.
Because right now, they’ve just proved they can win the games their roster suggests they should; they have yet to thrive in the face of adversity.
They have yet to beat the best, at their best.
And that’s the mark of a true contender.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.