Welcome to Hoop Dreams, a season preview unlike any other you’ll read before the 2016-17 season tips off. The premise is simple. We’ll be providing 30 of these fictional forays because it simply stinks that only one team can win the title each year. The list of contending teams seems to shrink with each campaign, and we wanted to provide something to those fans who only get to dream of Larry O’Brien during the offseason. Before October, every team can win the NBA title. Don’t believe us? Then keep reading. – Ed
It’s June 2017 and empty vodka bottles lay interspersed with champagne on the floor of the Barclays Center home locker room. Mikhail Prokhorov, fresh off a media tour that would make even Joe Lacob blush, strolls down the hall with a cigar in each hand. Brook Lopez sits near his locker, champagne soaked with a bright light emanating off his face, entranced by a particularly tough World of Warcraft battle. A media mob the size of a small village suffocates Jeremy Lin as he awkwardly fumbles his MVP trophy. The Brooklyn Nets have won the NBA title, and no one is quite sure how.
After the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade depleted the Nets asset cupboard, the brand conscious franchise was left stranded in a mediocrity desert. Without a draft pick to tank for, they picked names out of a hat to assemble a semi-competent team. Little did they know that Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, and Anthony Bennett were a championship core in the making.
Brooklyn struggled out of the gate, as expected. The roster of misfit toys needed time to mesh and find a style of play. The season turned in a late December game when Randy Foye hit 14 threes in a late December game against the Warriors. Brooklyn eschewed their slow, plodding pace for a blistering style that pushed the Nets over 115 points per game. Once that style of play took full force, the Jeremy Lin Renaissance followed suit.