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Power Rankings a Middlin' Tale for Brooklyn Nets

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After a week of what looked like finger-pointing, a lineup change, a new old (or is it old new) playbook, the first trade rumors, but only one win, the Nets are in the middle of the pack in the weekly power rankings, listed anywhere from No. 12 (Sports Illustrated) to No. 17 (ESPN).

And while most focus on the team's offense, stats guru John Schuhmann contends, "defense is still the primary concern for this team."

John Schuhmann, (15)

It was an interesting week in Brooklyn to say the least. Deron Williams voiced his preference for Jerry Sloan's offense over Avery Johnson's and the Nets got hammered by the Knicks. Then Johnson added Sloan's flex offense in practice and it produced two key baskets for Williams late in Sunday's win over the Sixers. Of course, defense is still the primary concern for this team.

Marc Stein, ESPN, (17)

D-Will is shooting an unsightly 39.7 percent from the floor. Joe Johnson has picked it up lately but isn't faring much better at 42.9 percent. Throw in the Nets' league-leading six losses in games they led by at least 13 points and you quickly grasp why the pressure is mounting on Avery Johnson.

Marc J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports (14)

Brooklyn Nets (14-12, previous ranking: 11th): Deron Williams blames coach Avery Johnson's system for his scoring struggles. Williams also had the lowest shooting percentage for Team USA at the Olympics.

Seth Rosenthal, SB Nation (14)

Avery Johnson making calculated strategic (meeting Deron Williams halfway) and rotational (shuffling frontcourt minutes) changes to better suit his roster seems warranted, given Brooklyn's recent turmoil. It surely behooves Johnson and his grasp on the reins to make such decisions.

Sean Deveney, Sporting News (15)

And you thought last year was rough? Power forward Kris Humphries got a DNP-CD in Sunday’s win over the Sixers—and he was completely healthy.

Matt Dollinger, Sports Illustrated (12)

The Nets looked like the best team in New York after downing the Knicks in overtime in late November. But December has been a sobering month for Brooklyn, which has lost eight of 10. Some of its struggles are deceptive, though. The Nets played half of those games without center Brook Lopez, who ranks eighth in the NBA with a 23.7 PER, and all eight of their losses came against winning teams, including the Heat, Thunder, Knicks (twice) and Warriors. With Lopez back in the lineup, Brooklyn should bounce back and play more like the team that started 9-4.

Mitch Lawrence, New York Daily News (16)

Avery Johnson needs to figure out how to get Deron Williams to start playing like a max-salary player, or he'll be looking for another coaching job before he knows it.

John Reid, New Orleans Times-Picayune (12)

Pressure increasing on Coach Avery Johnson to make the Nets an elite team. They are not there yet despite having Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

Kurt Helin, NBC Sports (13)

They can run iso sets, flex offense sets, or just pure anarchy on offense, it doesn’t matter if they don’t defend well. And the Nets don’t defend well (21st in NBA in points allowed per possession). Also, when the Knicks came to Brooklyn it sounded like a rivalry in the arena, when the Nets went to Manhattan Knicks fans were bored with them.

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