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Brooklyn Nets: 3 keys to season

From left, Joe Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack,

From left, Joe Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Jarrett Jack, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young pose for portraits during Nets media day at the team's practice center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Photo Credit: James Escher

The idea of a Nets superteam competing for championships is but a bitter memory now. The franchise is moving forward under a new reality, whether they can see it or not: Brooklyn isn't a title contender.

At best, the 2015-16 season should look more like the last one, with the Nets fighting tooth and nail for a postseason spot. At worst, they'll be a cellar dweller that wouldn't benefit from a lottery pick -- that belongs to the Celtics.

Here's how the Nets can make the most of their season, which begins tonight in Chicago against the Bulls.

Johnson stays put

Joe Johnson has been the subject of trade rumors for awhile. At 34 and in the final year of his lucrative contract, he could be unloaded to a contender before the February deadline. He's not an All-Star anymore, but the Nets need him to compete. Without him, it would be a rough finish.

Cheap production

Four players will make eight figures this year -- including Deron Williams, now with the Mavericks. Most of the rest will be paid less than $2 million this year. The Nets are counting on low-risk gambles on players such as former lottery picks Andrea Bargnani and Thomas Robinson to pay dividends.

Prey on the weak

Let's face it, the East isn't the shark-infested swimming pool that is the Western Conference. The Nets will play plenty of games against team who, like themselves, don't have a great outlook. Getting the better of teams such as the 76ers, Hornets, Pistons and crosstown rival Knicks makes Brooklyn a borderline playoff team.


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