Even before Monday's debacle in Philadelphia, there was divided opinion among the power rankers, with the divide at No. 10. John Schuhmann, Mark Stein and John Hollinger, the most popular and most senior of the ranking pundits, all have the Nets outside the top 10 looking in, with Schuhmann at No. 12, Stein and Hollinger at No. 14. Everyone else has them at No. 10 or better, but no one has been them about No. 9,
One thing is certain: the Nets ranking, no matter where it happens to be, is a function of how well --or poorly-- Deron Williams is playing, with almost all of the pundits noting his recent heroics. Here's the list ... in a new format.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com (12)
If Deron Williams can play (consistently) like an All-Star again, the Nets have a good shot at holding on to the 4 seed in the East. But it will take more than wins over Washington, Charlotte and Atlanta for us to believe they can get higher than that. Williams has averaged 23.1 points on 47 percent shooting over 10 games since the All-Star break, highlighted by his 11 threes in Friday's win over the Wiz.
Mark Stein, ESPN (14)
Eleven of their final 19 games are against teams that'll definitely miss the playoffs. And few teams are as ruthless against sub-.500 teams as the 23-3 Nets. But 12 of those 19 games are on the road, so Brooklyn needs this recharged D-Will to keep delivering to cling to the East No. 4 seed.
Marc J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports (9)
Deron Williams is averaging 24 points through six games in March, including a 42-point outburst in a win over Washington. Previously, Williams had not averaged more than 19 points in any month this season.
David Aldridge, NBA/TNT (9)
Deron Williams Week: 26.3 points, 6.3 assists, 59.2 percent from the floor and 58.6 percent from 3-point range, including a franchise record 11 threes Friday (en route to 42 points) in the Nets' rout of Washington.
Adi Joseph, USA Today (9)
Nine first-half threes don't make up for Deron Williams' many misses.
Kurt Helin, NBC Sports (10)
I’m not sold on Brooklyn but they are continuing to beat the teams they are supposed to beat and with a lineup of the slumping Sixers, the Hornets and the Hawks on the schedule they could keep going. Deron Williams is looking like his old self lately.
Matt Dollinger, Sports Illustrated (10) published Friday
Would the Nets be better off with Dwight Howard over Brook Lopez? It's tough to go against the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but Lopez is doing his best to make that a tough question. He leads all centers with 18.9 points per game and ranks fourth at the position in blocks. Furthermore, his 25.3 Player Efficiency Rating is fourth in the league, well ahead of Howard's 19.7 mark. If you're looking for another tiebreaker, the Lakers' record doesn't help Howard's case, either.