Preview! The Brooklyn Nets are stacked, but can they defend?
The Nets enjoy one of the deepest rosters in the league, with a starting lineup that can score in a multitude of ways. Offense is not going to be an issue for them this season.
Defense is another story: It's a likely vulnerability, and the thing that could keep them from being the last Eastern Conference team standing against the Miami Heat.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are each among the best at their positions in the backcourt, with neatly complementary games. If a concern exists for either of them, it is Williams' ankle, which required a cortisone shot already, and probably will be repaired surgically following the season.
But one of the luxuries of the depth the Nets enjoy is that the team doesn't need to overuse Williams during the regular season. His backup, C.J. Watson, could start for many teams, and even second-round pick TyShawn Taylor showed flashes of talent in the preseason.
Likewise, any injury to Johnson still leaves the Nets with an offensive threat, MarShon Brooks, along with defensive stopper Keith Bogans at shooting guard.
So the team's biggest strength, its starting backcourt, also contains multiple insurance policies.
That is not to say the Nets are a guard-only team. Their center, Brook Lopez, is one of the finest scoring big men in the league. More encouraging, he averaged nine rebounds per game in the preseason, suggesting that his limitations on the boards could be abating. He'll be supported by Kris Humphries, a consistent double-double, at power forward, and Gerald Wallace, a solid scorer/rebounder/defender, at small forward.
Here, too, the Nets have backup plans. This is vital in the case of Lopez, who played only five games last season. The Nets have Andray Blatche, who was amnesties by the Wizards this summer after a rough 2011-12 season. Blatche, however, was a strong contributor in the four prior seasons, and played as well as anybody for the Nets this preseason. Like Watson, he could start for many teams.
At forward, reclamation project Josh Childress and impressive Turkish import Tornike Shengelia back up Wallace at small forward, while the Nets can utilize rebounding extraordinaire Reggie Evans, or three-point specialist Mirza Teletovic, as alternates to Humphries.
The beauty of the Nets' roster is that everybody seems to have a role. The potential pitfall is almost none of these players has played lockdown defense for any extended period of time.
The season seems to hold the potential for plenty of 115-110 finals. Expect the Nets to win enough of them to extend their season into May, but probably not June.