The Nets finished tied for third best record in the East last season with 49 wins. They swept the Pacers, beating them at home and in Indiana. They added five players who averaged 65 points last year, two of whom are surefire Hall of Famers. The players they gave up averaged 33.
No one on the NBA.com blogtable believes they will finish better than third in the East.
The reasons are nothing new: "Health and rookie coach Jason Kidd are the wild cards here. Kidd has a lot of veteran egos to massage and a lot to prove under pressure," writes Jeff Caplan, who puts Brooklyn fourth. Sekou Smith thinks they could finish behind the Knicks, noting, "The Nets and Knicks could flip flop spots a dozen times between now and the start of training camp on my list." Scott Howard-Cooper and John Schuhman has them third. None of the bloggers mentioned any of the Nets off-season additions by name.
Two reasons for the Pacers to be so high on everyone's list: the return of Danny Granger and the addition of bench players C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland.
However, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider is more optimistic, ranking them second in the East. He writes...
A lot of ink (err, bandwidth) has been spilled on the aging core, but let's not forget that their two best players -- Deron Williams and Brook Lopez -- are in their primes.
The Kirilenko addition should do wonders to keep Pierce and Garnett fresh for the playoffs, which will be huge with their lofty goals for next season.
Haberstroh ranks the Heat at No. 1 with the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks in that order after the Nets.