Time to put away all those predictions (except for the ones below). Your team --the ones described over the summer and fall as "putrid," "pocket lint," "vanilla slowpokes," "below replacement-level players," "boring" and "arguably the worst team in the league" -- is two days from taking the court. The roster is set.
Since it's Monday, that means the last of the pre-season power rankings, from Schuhmann, Stein et al. It's ugly as one might expect, considering the buildup. But at least not all the usual suspects are doing pre-season rankings yet. So there's minimal piling on. Plenty of time for that later.
Two of the pundits have the Nets at No. 29, which is lower than they were at the end of the 12-70 debacle in 2009-10. Really? Does everyone hate Andrea Bargnani THAT much?
"The highlight of the Nets' season may have happened on the second day of training camp, when owner Mikhail Prokhorov went through his martial arts drills in front of the team. It's hard to see anything his players do this season being as entertaining or as relevant as that, though this season could be a referendum on Lionel Hollins' ability to coach 'em up."
"Instead of the title he vowed to win within five years and clinch eternal bachelorhood, Mikhail Prokhorov enters Season 6 as Nets owner as a single man -- because he never went through with that self-threat to find a wife -- facing a l-o-n-g wait 'til next summer's chance to get back into the open market as a big spender."
"The Nets looked to cut some costs in the offseason, but did not go so far as to rebuild. The end product is a squad without much in the way of forward momentum or broader purpose."
"Don’t expect Brooklyn to have the same fate it did last season after sneaking into the playoffs with an eighth seed. Unless one of the few young players on the roster steps into a primary role, the future looks bleak for the Nets."
"As one scout said, "The Nets are fourth in the Atlantic because Philly is so bad." Not quite high praise. They got less expensive, but worse. Brook Lopez should have a good year and Thaddeus Young is sound, if out of position. Joe Johnson is a 14-year vet whose best years are past. Starting guards Jarrett Jack and Wayne Ellington would be a sound second-unit backcourt. Bojan Bogdanovic struggled in preseason. But they have Andrea Bargnani … the prosecution rests. Can’t blame Deron Williams."
"They have Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, plus a good coach in Lionel Hollins, but this team is going to struggle. They finally got under the salary cap again and have money to spend next summer, but that came with sacrifices on the court."
CBS Sports isn't doing power rankings yet, but its writers have made their win projections, part of their "NBA expert predictions." Amanth Pandian has them at 19. That's the low end, thank God. James Herbert has them at 20, Matt Moore at 23 and Zach Harper puts the Nets all the way up at 25! Hurrah. And Nylon Calculus, part of Moore's Hardwood Paroxysm, has them winning no more than 21 games. Author Justin W adds, " I don’t project any player to be a significantly positive contributor and they’ll be relying on a number of players who are likely large net negatives"
Similarly, SB Nation, NetsDaily's parent, had seven of its writers predict the standings in the East and West. No one had the Nets higher than 13th in the East and three writers had them 14th.
Washington Post calls them "also-rans" and lumps them with the 76ers in the division while calling the Knicks the division "Dark Horse!" It's come to this?!?
Finally, as an antidote to all that negativity is the lone voice crying out in the pundit wilderness, Jawad Tassawer, who writes for Skyscaper Sports (!?!). He has the Nets at 50-32 and writes, "Now that the Nets don’t have to worry about how many minutes their aging stars will play and when to rest them, this squad has an opportunity to surprise plenty of people this upcoming season"
Bless you, Jawad.