Just how good are the Nets?

On paper, Brooklyn is a title contender. On the court, the math is trickier

Updated: July 18, 2013, 3:07 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

 Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin GarnettGetty ImagesThe Nets unveil their new players in Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Pierce.

There are rational human beings among us who think that the newly minted Brooklyn Nets have become the NBA's best team, even better than the two-time champion Miami Heat. "Minted" is apropos, because cost will always be a key part of the story for a team whose roster is going to cost its uber-rich owner about $180 million next season.

Excitement over the new Nets is bordering on giddiness, with Thursday's news conference introducing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, though there is no need for that quartet to speak a word -- the Nets' offseason plan has had all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer. So where does this team stand? The road from today to a Nets championship parade is long, but the time to get there is growing short.