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Brook Lopez highest ranking Brooklyn Nets player in Sports Illustrated ranking

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's September 1, the beginning of the last month of the off-season.  October is preseason.   So pundits and publications are ranking everyone and everything they can to fill pages and airwaves.

Sports Illustrated chooses this time every year to rank the top 100 players in the league and this year, there are three Nets -- Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and Joe Johnson.  Lopez leads the pack at No. 38, with Young at 75 and Johnson at 82.

Johnson's rank is 31 spots down from last year, as his numbers dipped to a level not seen since his third year in the NBA. Not a surprise that he dropped, but Lopez is down two spots, after roaring back from a foot injury that kept him out most of 2013-14 and Young is down six after helping the Nets get into the playoffs

Here are some excerpts...

Johnson...

As the sun sets on Johnson’s career, we’ve begun to see the division between solid all-around players and mere adequacy. No longer is Johnson a volume scorer or an especially stout defender. His All-Star game has faded with time, leaving some skills sturdy and others merely passable.

Young...

One doesn’t script ways for Young to be an active participant in the offense. He just finds a way to help. By seizing on openings in the defense, the 27-year-old forward darted his way into enough runners and put-backs to supply some 15.8 points per 36 minutes last season.

Lopez...

Posting up is an important part of Lopez’s game but hardly the sum of it. With time, he’s diversified. More of his offensive usage now comes from rolling to the rim rather than working with his back to the basket—a quiet change that dramatically alters what kind of role Lopez could occupy. Efficient, high-volume post play demands a tailored structure.

Among former Nets, Deron Williams, described as "notoriously surly", ranks just below Johnson at No. 83, and Derrick Favors, described as the ""most underrated" on the list, at No. 37, just ahead of Lopez.  The top 30 will be revealed later in the week, but there's no chance any of the other Nets being ranked higher.

Meanwhile, HoopsHabit, part of FanSided, has Nets winning 24 games this season, just ahead of the 76ers and just below the Knicks.