The Brooklyn Nets put a toe in the water last spring with their first playoff berth since 2015 before making a splash a few months later with the acquisitions of Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.
The Nets hope the added firepower will lead to taking another significant step forward, beginning with their season opener against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
“I don’t know that all the guys we signed in the offseason are coming here for mediocrity. That’s not part of it,” Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said, per the New York Post. “This is why we went in. That’s why ownership showed the ability to get behind us, and support the vision that we’ve outlined.”
Irving is looking to continue his success after two productive — albeit turbulent — years in Boston. The six-time All-Star averaged 23.8 points along with career highs of 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 67 games last season, although his leadership was heavily scrutinized.
Jordan provides an inside presence for Brooklyn after splitting last season with the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks. The 6-foot-11 center boasts career averages of 9.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while his 66.9 field-goal percentage comfortably ranks first in NBA history.
Durant’s impact likely won’t be felt until next season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon sustained during the NBA Finals, as the franchise intends to take a long-term approach with the former NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star.
The new acquisitions are joined by forward Taurean Prince, who averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over three seasons in Atlanta before signing a two-year contract extension worth $29 million with the Nets this week.
“We’d be in the wrong business if we said our goal is to be sustainable and along for the ride of mediocrity. None of those words exist with us,” Marks said. “We’re going to compete at the highest level, and we expect the ultimate goal. That’s why we’re all in this business.”
The new-look Nets, 42-40 last season, will face a Minnesota team that answered a 14-year playoff drought in 2018 by registering a 36-46 mark.
Two-time All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns leads the way for the Timberwolves after averaging 24.4 points and a career-high 12.4 rebounds last season.
“Everyone always sleeps on people in Minnesota because they don’t hear our name a lot. That’s fine. That’s cool,” Towns told The Undefeated. “We are going to come from the underground and just find ourselves in the playoffs if we continue to do what we’re doing.”
Under Ryan Saunders, the youngest head coach in the NBA at age 33, Minnesota expects to play an up-tempo style while stressing the importance of shooting from beyond the arc.
A healthy Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins form a potent backcourt, with the former expressing optimism that his team can fly under the radar this season.
“It’s like a blank canvas. We can do anything we want to do. Our team could be really good. No one’s expecting much, and that’s the beauty of it,” Teague said.
–Field Level Media
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