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5Qs: On the Brooklyn Nets, Joe Johnson and the Raptors Rivalry

As part of our season preview, we'll be talking to other SB Nation team blogs and asking them five questions about their team.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

As the 5Q series continues, today we chat with Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily on Joe Johnson breaking out and the rivalry with the Raptors up north.

Q: Last season, the Nets made it to the playoffs and lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. How do you feel about the way the season ended? Would you say it was a success or failure?

A: Since they made the playoffs and avoided the utter disaster of surrendering a lottery pick to the first-place Hawks, I'd say it was a success. By now it's known that the Nets should have been a better team based off the record-setting cost of their roster. But all in all, they made the playoffs when the Knicks didn't, they pushed a number one seed to six games, and they found the foundation of their future in the Brook Lopez-Thaddeus Young duo. Success is a little strong for their last year's situation, but it definitely wasn't a fail.

Q: With Hollins coaching in his second year, what are some of the expectations he must meet? Is there more pressure this time around?

A: If anything, the pressure on Lionel Hollins has decreased with lowered expectations. No matter the circumstances, Hollins, along with any coach in the NBA, must find ways to win basketball games. However, being that the Nets are on their fourth coach in four seasons, I don't think Lionel's seat will be ‘hot' for a long, long time. It'll be important to see how he gets the most out of his young players, and whether or not he can push them hard enough to be playoff contenders. He has talent on this squad. He just needs to push the right guys to backup his top guns in the long 82-game season.

Q: On draft night, the Nets selected Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. What do you think about the Hollis-Jefferson selection? How do you think he'll fit in the Nets system and how do you think he'll do in his rookie campaign?

A: It’s really hard to knock the Hollis-Jefferson pick, especially when you have a defensive-minded coach like Lionel Hollins running the show. For starters, Hollis-Jefferson seems like a great character to have around the locker room. He always seems to be smiling and having a good time, something this team needs after negative energy filled the locker room the past few seasons. He also carries a swagger to him like no other. On media day, he told reporters he’s most excited to defend Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and James Harden. He’s definitely not short on confidence. We’ll see if it’s justified, but there’s a good chance RHJ becomes the Nets’ primary defensive hound.

Q: The Raptors and Nets seemed to have rekindle a old found rivalry: Divisional foes, geographic proximity, Vince Carter leaving for the other and now playoffs adversaries. What do you think about the Nets-Raptors feud? Is it more significant than other Eastern Conference teams?

A: The rivalry is good at best. It looked to have great potential after the 2013-2014 playoff series – the way legitimate rivalries start. Not to mention, the Nets had characters like Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche to spice things up a bit. The rivalry has grown stagnant after last year’s dull season from Brooklyn, but maybe it’ll pick back up if both teams are competitive this upcoming season. (Personally, I’d like the competition on the court … not over the very, very familiar logo/jerseys Drake invented).

Q: The 2015-16 season is Joe Johnson's last on his current deal with the Nets. What do you think you'll see from Johnson in his contract year?

A:  I see another solid season coming from Joe Johnson. He’s dealt with injuries in the past, and now with Deron Williams gone, word around Brooklyn is that Joe Johnson is very happy about this. We know how important it is for your start players to be happy. Oh, and let’s not forget that Johnson is the second highest paid player right now. Next season the TV deal hits. He wont receive the same amount, but you can be sure he’s going to play his tail off to get at least half of what he’s making now.