The Brooklyn Nets had a press conference on Friday to announce the re-signing of Deron Williams, who signed a five-year deal worth close to $100 million, and Joe Johnson, who was acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks. The event, which took place in downtown Brooklyn, was attended by a lot of media and fans, but Johnson made the most noise with a simple statement: he said the Nets are the best team in New York.
When asked if the Brooklyn Nets are the best team in the New York area, Johnson responded “Definitely.” And you know what? He may be correct. With the recent trade for Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas, the New York Knicks now will need the preseason and the beginning of the regular season to build the continuity between Felton, Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Tyson Chandler, and other rotation players for the Knicks. Felton, of course, had very good chemistry with Amar’e Stoudemire, who hasn’t been able to mesh with Anthony after the February 2011 trade.
The Nets, meanwhile, have a lot of returning parts. Williams is one of the best point guards in the National Basketball Association, and he is the leader of the team. Joe Johnson will be the second offensive option on the team, and will be one of the most productive second options in the league. The Nets now have one of the top back courts in the league, and with Williams and Johnson handling the ball most of the time, that should improve ball movement even more and decrease turnovers.
Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace are all returning to the team, having signed deals all of the summer, and should join Williams and Johnson in the back court. With the preseason to smooth out their kinks, the Nets should hit the ground running at the beginning of the NBA season. I think it is this start that will ultimately be the difference between the Knicks and the Nets in the standings.
Talent-wise, the Knicks and Nets aren’t on the same level of the Miami Heat, the defending NBA champions. The Knicks and Nets may end up battling for the four and five seeds in the Eastern Conference, and the privilege of facing the Heat in the second round. At this point, I would marginally favor the Nets over the Knicks, but there are still moves being made by both teams, and, of course, injuries, trades, and acquisitions, combined with overall team chemistry will ultimately decide which team will be superior. Let the battle for New York begin!