So What Do I Think About the Nets?

Now that I’ve been properly introduced by Sebastian, I figured the best way to get my tenure started at Nets Are Scorching is to hit you all with yet another “expectations for the upcoming season” type post. That way, you get an idea as to how I see this team, which I’ve cheered for most of my life despite growing up on Long Island and now living in New York City (in other words, I must be a little half-baked to be pulling for a team that I should otherwise have zero affinity for).

So while looking for inspiration to discuss all of the storylines Nets fans have been hearing about for a while now, I read some comments from team president Rod Thorn to the New York Post’s Fred Kerber. Part of Kerber’s interview with Thorn addressed the brutal first two months of the Nets schedule.

While most prognosticators, including our own Sebastian Pruiti in his current series of posts breaking down the Nets schedule, see the opening stretch, which includes the first 16 of 25 games on the road, as a slow and painful burial for the young Nets, Thorn sees it as a chance to surprise some of the good teams early, while building up team camaraderie on the road. The glass is half-full.

While it’s Thorn’s job to say the right things to the media and see things on the bright side, I think his attitude best summarizes my outlook for the upcoming season – it’s all about managed expectations and hope that some things come together that build towards the 2010 off-season – which is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated outside the lines/off-the-court sporting events in recent memory.

Right now, as a Nets fan, you might see a team that, a year ago, surprised many, winning 34 games before trading the last of their “big three” for a nice role player and some expiring contracts. Meanwhile, their owner seemingly has his back against the wall in trying to get the team relocated to Brooklyn as part of his larger real estate development plan, throwing the entire state of the franchise into doubt for next season and making the cap space they have acquired seemingly irrelevant for quality free agents who will likely pass on playing in such an unstable environment.

Or you can take the Rod Thorn approach and look for the silver lining. The Nets have seemingly filled two of the hardest positions to fill, point guard and center, with young, affordable, quality players in Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Supporting players like Courtney Lee, Jarvis Hayes, Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas Roberts are nice pieces to have when building a team. In a paper thin draft, the Nets made one of the better picks by grabbing Terrence Williams. After two floundering years, Yi Jianlian looks to be more motivated than ever before, adding some bulk in the process. And there’s a shot by the end of the calendar year, we might know for certain whether a move to Brooklyn is happening. Factor all of that in with tons of financial flexibility to make a big splash next off-season and there are reasons to be optimistic.

The fact is, I look at the Nets and I see some brutal stretches, but I also see some hope. I think a lot of things will have to go wrong for this team to be as bad as some think, while a lot of things would also have to go right for them to sneak into the playoffs. So rather than agonize about it, I want to keep an open mind.

When you’re not a fan of one of the league’s established “elite” teams, all you can ask for are some good storylines – they are the reason to tune in and be a fan. If you can’t get yourself interested in those storylines, you’re probably not going to be following the team all that closely. So while Cavs wonder what Shaq has left in the tank, and Lakers fans debate how Ron Artest will affect their locker room, and Magic fans argue about whether or not Vince Carter should be taking it to the hoop more, I’m going to look to see how the Nets handle adversity, build character, and maybe take a team or two by surprise.

Not to repeat anything you might have read on the “about” page but feel free to write me any fan mail at [email protected] or you can follow my scintillating personal life on twitter under my name MarkGinocchio.