David Aldridge says there's no precision, no predictions in his rankings, by thirds, of the NBA's 30 teams and admits it's as much art as it is science. That said, his rankings look at whether a team got better in this off-season ... And how they're situated for 2016 free agency.
In that context, he puts Brooklyn in his "middle 10." Actually, No. 12. He seems to be warming to what the Nets have done. Bottom line for 2016: he thinks they have "enough movable pieces and cap space to at least be able to dream about adding an impact free agent." Here's his analysis:
THE KEY MAN: Jarrett Jack. Our John Schuhmann will blow a gasket, but Deron Williams' departure means Jack will start and get big minutes next season. He was terrific for Golden State a couple of years ago as a third guard, but has struggled for consistency the last two seasons in Cleveland and Brooklyn. But it's Jack's team to run now.
THE SKINNY: Under pressure from The Prokhorov to get salaries under control and avoid the repeater luxury tax, GM Billy King sliced his payroll by almost $20 million despite spending market rate to re-sign Lopez and Young. The key was getting rid of Williams, whose lack of productivity, injuries and grouchiness produced a perfect storm of unpopularity. His departure will mean an offense that goes almost exclusively through Lopez and Joe Johnson. Hollis-Jefferson could become a defensive terror in time, and on the occasions when Brooklyn can run, he and Young could be exceptional lane fillers. But that would require a significant improvement at the defensive end -- the Nets were 24th in the league last season in defensive rating, 25th in opponent effective field goal percentage, 18th in points allowed and 24th in steals. Brooklyn got a lot younger and cheaper, though, and has enough moveable pieces and cap space in 2016 to be able to at least dream about adding an impact free agent.
Other Eastern Conference teams in the "middle" were the Celtics, Wizards, Pacers, Raptors, Heat, Knicks and Hawks.
- The Middle 10: Teams prep for seismic summer of '16 - David Aldridge - NBA.com