Do Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett Make Brooklyn Nets Legit NBA Title Contenders?

Josh CohenCorrespondent IIJune 28, 2013

Pierce and KG give the Nets an incredibly imposing starting five.
Pierce and KG give the Nets an incredibly imposing starting five.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Now that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are joining the Brooklyn Nets, they have to be on the shortlist of championship contenders in 2013-14.

Brooklyn came away huge after its whirlwind negotiations with the Boston Celtics. The Nets are acquiring two aged stars, and are sending away a cavalcade of draft picks and insignificant players for the privilege.

Along with KG and Pierce, Jason Terry is coming over from Boston, which will receive Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans, the right to swap first-rounders in 2017 and unprotected first-rounders in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

In short, the Nets are offering up a laundry list of assets, but most of them have negligible value to Brooklyn, and the long-term cost to the organization is virtually nonexistent.

So where does that leave the Nets now?

The window of opportunity for Brooklyn to win with its new players is very slim. Pierce has just one non-guaranteed year left on his deal, while the second and final season remaining for Garnett is also non-guaranteed.

Additionally, the two will be a combined 73 years-old when the NBA tips off again. So there's that.

Fortunately, they are a part of one of the strongest starting lineups in the league, as Brooklyn is now in the preposterous position where it has a strength at every spot on the floor.

Between Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez, the Nets can expect plus-production on offense and defense, inside and outside, with no two players filling the same role. It's the total package.

However, it does leave the Nets with two clear issues: Depth and age.

Brooklyn's bench currently consists of MarShon Brooks, Mirza Teletovic, Tornike Shengelia and the recently-drafted Mason Plumlee. To fill out the rest of the roster, the Nets will have to hope they get some vets—preferably at point guard and center—to sign on-the-cheap to chase a title.

Even if that happens, however, Brooklyn will still be hopeless in the event of an injury to any starter.

Unless Brooks is suddenly ready to take on a larger role, the Nets' rotation will be compromised if any of their stars misses extended time—or any time in the postseason. Even if Brooks can step up and spot-start, that won't solve any problems that might arise with Williams, Lopez or Garnett.

That's a hypothetical problem, though. What's factual is that the Miami Heat will be able to run this team off the floor.

Miami has an older roster, too, but it has built its dynasty on the hyper-athleticism of its stars and a pressure-based defense that leads to transition opportunities. The Nets are not equipped to keep up with the Heat; that means this amalgamation of talent is also very prone to getting blown out by a speedy team.

On the other hand, Brooklyn's stars could very well win out if they play at their preferred pace.

The Heat almost fell to the bruising Indiana Pacers in the playoffs because they were forced to play a half-court game featuring old-school post play. Brooklyn will excel in that format next season, and its talented lineup could cover for its weak bench more than Indy's first unit did with the same problem.

So while this doesn't make the Brooklyn Nets the favorites for the East, let alone the title, it does give them the resources—if healthy, of course—to beat the Heat in any given series.

If they can do that, they can beat anyone.

It's still stunningly improbable that Pierce and KG are coming to the Nets. Believe it or not, they are, and they can be, bringing a championship to Brooklyn, as well.