In Part III of SI.com's Top 100 Players of 2014 list, there are three Brooklyn Nets in the 30-21 range, as projected by Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney.
Nets big man Brook Lopez checks in at No. 30 on the list, with his upside being all offense and the major knock being his rebound rate, as Mahoney writes.
The rebounding is another story. Lopez catches the most heat for his inability to grab boards on a consistent basis — a perplexing limitation given his pretty strong lower body and great reach. Still, it’s interesting that he’s such an easy target for his rebounding woes, whereas Grizzlies center Marc Gasol — who posted a total rebounding rate 0.3 percent lower than that of Lopez — gets more or less a free pass. It’s all a matter of context, and as long as Lopez has a crew of effective rebounders around him (as he will in Brooklyn this season), most board-induced crises can be averted.
Next up for the Nets is Kevin Garnett, who checks in at No. 28. The reason for the ranking -- too high or too low, I suppose? -- is that Garnett will most certainly make a huge impact in Brooklyn as a player and a leader, but the "knock" is the age and millage that is expected to keep Garnett limited in the regular season. But, as far as the Nets are concerned, success comes in the playoffs and ultimately the NBA Finals, which is where KG will most certainly be a huge factor.
Finally, Deron Williams makes the list at No. 24, according to Mahoney and Golliver. A bit too low, maybe? Golliver addresses that concern, writing:
If Williams’ ranking seems a bit low, and it might considering his lofty reputation in past years, remember that he hasn’t won a playoff series since 2010 and that his PER has slipped slightly, landing outside the top-five point guards after spending 2009, 2010 and 2011 ranked either third or fourth at his position. It’s not that he’s tumbled so much as a few other highly qualified candidates have slipped past him, possibly on a temporary basis. For context, Williams is No. 7 among point guards on this list, but it’s a very fluid group: Ranked above him are a recent MVP, three players who finished in the top nine of the 2013 MVP voting, multiple perennial All-NBA selections, four 2013 All-Stars and a number of guys coming off big-time performances in last season’s playoffs. The competition here is just vicious, and Williams does suffer on the "What have you done for me lately?" front.
However you may perceive the "slight," let's take a look at the positives: the Nets have six players in the Top 60, which is highly impressive. You can argue that the rankings might be a bit low, as well, because of the amount of talent on this team.
Yes, look on the bright side, Nets fans. The season is right around the corner and all of these rankings will be put to rest, when the actual outcomes become the most important indicator.
- Top 100 NBA players of 2014: Nos. 30-21 | The Point Forward - Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney - SI.com