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A Dose of Optimism For Nets Fans

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Brad Doolittle is a deep stats maven for Basketball Prospectus who writes occasionally for ESPN. His latest offering on the Nets is a refreshing tonic for the downtrodden fan. He says don't underestimate the value of Mehmet Okur as a player or trade piece.

Doolittle thinks that despite Okur's rough start, it's too early to suggest he can't fill the Nets void at center. In fact, he suggests that if Okur and Deron Williams start hooking up the way they did at Utah, the Nets might not lose much with Brook Lopez's injury. "New Jersey will lose about a win for every 15 games Lopez misses. If he's able to return within the most optimistic timetable (six weeks, which would put him back on Feb. 3), the difference might only mean a win for the Nets".

He also says that Okur's expiring contract could help seal the deal for Dwight Howard: "Trading for Okur's expiring deal gives Orlando a shot at being a player in free agency. The Magic would enter the summer of 2012 with at least $20 million in cap space". Finally, Doolittle notes that if the Nets hit more than just a rough patch, it would increase the value of their pick in the talent-laden 2012 draft.