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Reviewing the NBA Previews - 2008

You can find them on the newsstands, but not online: those glossy annual basketball previews, with their ranking of teams and players along with special fantasy features. This year, we found four of them on various newsstands. None have the Nets finishing higher than fourth in the Atlantic. Compare that to last year when one had New Jersey going to the Conference Finals or two years ago when one had them making the NBA Finals before losing, while another has them holding up the O’Brien Trophy at the Meadowlands.

Here they are, ranked by price of the preview--we've given up trying to measure quality--with a special look at how they project the Nets vs. Knicks in the final division standings.

Name: "2008-09 Pro Basketball"

Price: $9.95

Prediction: Fourth in the Atlantic Division

Netcentric Features: Fantasy projections: for Carter (#10), Harris (#21) among guards, Williams (#61), Yi (#66), Najera (#75), Simmons (#78) among forwards; Lopez (#18), Boone (#35) among centers. Carter projected as NBA’s seventh leading scorer, at 24.8 ppg.

Author: N/A

Bottom Line: "Devin Harris is now the franchise in New Jersey. He’s going to be eh centerpiece of the offense, getting points and assists…Vince Carter is still kicking around, and he’ll get plenty of shot attempts for the rebuilding Nets. But you have to wonder if he’ll tank again like he did with the Raptors back in the day."

Fun Fact: "Rookie Brook Lopez has good offensive skills on a team that will struggle to score. He’s not a great athlete and will struggle defensively, but Lopez should overtake Boone by midseason.’

Knicks or Nets: Nets by two games.

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Name: "Athlon Sports Pro Basketball"

Price: $6.99

Prediction: Fifth in the Atlantic Division

Netcentric Features: Vince Carter on the cover. Fantasy projections: for Carter (#6) among shooting guards; Harris (#11) among point guards; Yi (#25) among small forwards; Boone (#27) and Lopez (#29) among centers.

Author: Al Iannazzone or Steve Popper (both are listed among writers)

Bottom Line: "It’s hard to imagine this team making any sort of run—even to 34 wins it had last season. They key could be the development of the two marquee young players—Harris and Jianlian (sic). If both reach the sort of potential imagined for them, then the Nets have a new version of the Big Three – oops, they don’t want to be a three-man team anymore. Put it this way: Jay-Z had better be really good friends with Lebron."

Fun Fact: "One long shot to consider: the Nets still hold the rights to Nenad Krstic—and could let him rebuild his career after a devastating knee that derailed him, bringing him back in time to rejoin the team in 2010."

Knicks or Nets: Knicks.

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Name: "Lindy’s Pro Basketball"

Price: $6.99

Prediction: Fourth in the Atlantic Division

Netcentric Features: Devin Harris on the cover. Short feature on Yi Jianlian. Fantasy projections--only 1 through 30: for Carter (#13) among guards; Lopez ("also receiving votes") among centers.

Author: Fred Kerber

Bottom Line: "The Nets need Vince Carter to be the man again. The team is young. Last season’s leading scorer, Jefferson, is gone. But this may rejuvenate Carter. But how much can the Nets reasonable expect of Carter, in the second year of a four-year, $61.8 million extension? Just lead the scoring. The assists. And oh, get a half dozen rebounds, too. Carter’s drive-and-kick tendencies will be crucial to the Nets’ success. He maintained a positive approach last season when all was lost and waited for the off-season to have arthroscopic right ankle surgery."

Fun Fact: "No one around the Nets will compare Yi, 20, who was drafted N. 6 in 2007, to Dirk Nowitzki, but there are fingers crossed. Yi averaged 8.6 points as a rookie, Nowitzki averaged 8.2. Both are 7-0 athletic types who can shoot with range. If Yi follows Dirk’s path, the Nets would get the best of both worlds—basketball and marketing."

Knicks or Nets: Nets by two games.

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Name: "Sporting News Pro Basketball 2008-09"

Price: $5.99

Prediction: Fourth in the Atlantic Division

Netcentric Features: Yi Jianlian on the cover. "Best Glue Guys" – Eduardo Najera. "Top 200 Fantasy Players: Carter, #20, #3 among shooting guards; Harris, #80, #14 among point guards; Yi #146, #32 among power forwards; Lopez #156, #26 among centers; Williams, #168, #30 among centers; Boone, #182, #38 among power forwards.

Author: Marc Narducci

Bottom Line: "With Harris and Carter, the Nets will have a formidable offensive guard tandem and one of the most athletic backcourts in the NBA. Harris is known as more of a scoring point guard than a distributor. He must work on making better decisions. At age 25, Harris has improved in each of his four seasons and could now flourish with more playing time."

Fun Fact: "An opponent breaks down the Nets: ‘I think they have upgraded and become more athletic than in the past...I don’t think they will be as structured and they will play different and be more of an attacking team and score more points. They will force the tempo a little more.’"

Knicks or Nets: Nets.