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David Aldridge thinks Brooklyn Nets "may be OK" by season's end

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Christian Petersen

David Aldridge seems to be part of a new wave of punditry, sort of a begrudging concession that despite everything, the Nets may wind up competitive in the East.

In ranking all 30 teams' off-season Nos. 1 through 30, Aldridge ranks the Nets in the dead middle, at No. 15.  He admits he had a hard time getting there.

It was a struggle to rate Brooklyn this high, given the departures of Pierce and Livingston, who each impacted the team in so many positive ways. But the Nets did a good job replacing them and strengthening the roster at the same time.

He likes the result of the three team deal with Cleveland and Boston (ironically enough, engineered with the trade exception the Nets provided Boston last July), giving good grades to the acquisition of Jarrett Jack ... and Sergey Karasev.

Jack was great two years ago in Golden State and the bet is he'll do much better backing up Deron Williams than he did Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, where the two clashed; Brooklyn's commitment to the halfcourt game is more up Jack's alley...

The Nets thought about drafting Karasev in 2013 before the Cavs did. His young legs will help during the grind of the regular season.

As for the rookies, he only mentions Bojan Bogdanovic but thinks he could help in replacing Paul Pierce in at least one aspect.

The Nets got Bogdanovic over from Turkey's Fenerbahce three years after drafting him in 2011, and he should help replace Pierce's production behind the arc, at least.

He also likes Lionel Hollins as a veteran coach. Bottom line: "Don't know what the Nets will be by season's end, but they may be OK."

Aldridge ranks Cleveland at No. 1 (Duh!) and the Bulls and Hornets rights after them (all Eastern Conference). He put the Knick five spots ahead of the Nets and, no surprise here either, Minnesota at No. 30.

Meanwhile, Chris Mannix tries the same tact with letter grades, giving the Nets a "C", believing the loss of Pierce and Livingston is bound to hurt.