9. Brooklyn Nets
In 2012-13, the Nets were one of the slowest teams. They played at a pace of 88.8 possessions per game (28th) and allowed 95.1 points per game, good for a defensive rating of 106.2 (17th).
The five teams that were ahead of them in opponents’ points allowed all ranked among the top teams in terms of defensive rating. Brooklyn was the exception and despite playing at an extremely slow pace, allowed a high number of points.
Like Houston, the Nets’ offseason pickups will take them to another level defensively. Despite being 37 years old, Kevin Garnett had one of his best defensive seasons. Opponents had an offensive rating of 108.3 when Garnett was off the court and 99.3 when Garnett was on the court. That’s a comical nine point differential.
Paul Pierce is no slouch on the defensive end either. Though he’s not quick laterally and has quite a few highlights where he’s on the wrong end of a poster or ankle-breaking crossover, Pierce does know how to play team defense.
In addition to Garnett and Pierce, the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd, will likely preach a team-oriented defense.I would put money on the Nets improving defensively due to a team-wide effort.