On Tuesday, the Nets posted a video from Mikhail Prokhorov, the central messages of which were "We had a really good offseason – better than a lot of people expected" and "we are here to win," although he didn't say what. Wednesday, the team posted a photo gallery "of 11 things to watch" in the season outlook, from youth, at No. 1 to Joe Johnson at No. 11. In between there were both players, including Andrea Bargnani and "point guard position."
But in between, there was ESPN's Bradford Doolittle who took issue with Prokhorov's assessment of the off-season, using analytics, particularly WARP -- "wins over replacement players" -- for the Nets roster. His message was less positive, calling the Nets the "least improved" team in the NBA. It's on ESPN Insider, meaning you have to pay for the privilege of looking at the dark future.
Here's his assessment...
Hollis-Jefferson better hit the ground running because this is an ugly roster. Jarrett Jack is a fine reserve guard. But on this club, he projects to start, while being backed up by Larkin, whose baseline is below replacement. Speaking of replacement, Joe Johnson is one of two tent-pole pieces left in Brooklyn, and his inevitable creep toward replacement level should continue this season. Keeping Brook Lopez was a no-brainer, but who will help him? And if Lopez gets hurt, look out below. The bench projects to just 1.7 WARP as a group, with Robinson leading the way at 1.9. Perhaps the reserves will gel into a better group than that, but even given error bars in these rough forecasts, the Nets look like one of the league's worst teams on paper.
For what it's worth, a subsequent ESPN roundtable of five basketball writers didn't include the Nets in its ranking of the five teams with the worst off-season.
Like so many of the pundits, it's the Nets' reliance of Jack that's fueling Doolittle's negative predictions. Jack did start 27 games last season, averaging 15.9 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 boards, and shot 46% overall. The Nets were 11-16 in those games, but only 4-10 in the games that Deron Williams didn't appear.
The Nets, though, like what they see at the point. In their gallery copy, here's what they write...
Providing a veteran presence and team leadership in his first season in Brooklyn, Jarrett Jack enters year two with the Nets as the team’s starting point guard, while newly acquired guard Shane Larkin looks for a breakout season as the primary backup.
There was a tiny bit of news in the team's 11 points. Point 7 of the outlook for the 2015-16 season was Chris McCullough. The commentary strongly indicates he will get on the court this season.
Nets fans are eager to see Chris McCullough get through his ACL rehabilitation and make his way onto the court at Barclays Center. How will he fit into the offense and what kind of impact will he make once he is cleared to play?
Still, it is July. So we have a long time to see who will be proven right in the debate. Like three months!
- NBA - Los Angeles Clippers most improved team of NBA offseason - Bradford Doolittle - ESPN Insider
- 2015-16 Nets Season Outlook: 11 Things to Watch - Brooklyn Nets