The pundits have spoken: The Nets are No. 30 and last in their latest power rankings. The key rationale: the loss Sunday to the 76ers. All the pundits who waited till Monday to file their rankings have them No. 30. Those who filed before Sunday have the Nets as high as No. 26.
The Nets front office never promised anything more than progress, unlike its predecessors. Now, however, the reality of what that means is quite clear ... a lot of losses. Some believe that the Nets will get better in the second half of the season, but there’s no guarantee of that.
So we are asked to be patient. So far, fans have bought in, but losses, no matter what the rationale, sting. (Rankings filed before Sunday are marked with #.)
The one team that wants to sign Donatas Motiejunas (whose rights the Rockets renounced on Thursday) is the one team that isn't allowed to (because the Rockets' initially matched the Nets' offer sheet) for another 12 months. The Nets did get Jeremy Lin back last week, but lost the three games he played because they came up short down the stretch in Houston, Orlando and Philadelphia. And the one game they won last week will be best remembered for Brook Lopez getting posterized. They've lost nine straight road games, but the strength of opponents (with the league's top three offenses) will be the issue this week.
Christmas can't come soon enough for the Nets, who just lost winnable road games in Orlando and Philadelphia and now must prepare to play the Raptors in Toronto, Golden State at home and the Cavaliers in Cleveland before Santa Claus gets here. We don't have much to offer in the way of consolation, either, since league rules would appear to preclude Brooklyn from jumping back in to make another run at Donatas Motiejunas, even though Houston has cut all ties with the Lithuanian big man and made him an unrestricted free agent. One (ongoing) bright spot: Sean Kilpatrick leads all undrafted players in scoring at 16.0 PPG, just ahead of Dallas' Wesley Matthews (15.8 PPG).
Lose to the Sixers, find yourself last. Some rules of the universe you can't escape.
Jeremy Lin is back on the court, which makes this team far more entertaining to watch but not much better — they lost to the Sixers last week (they did get a win over a tired, traveling Lakers team). More bad news, the schedule this week is the Raptors, Warriors, and Cavaliers. Ouch.
The Nets have only held one opponent under 100 points since Nov. 8 and three all season. But, according to the NBA’s hustle stats, they’re the best team in the league at contesting shots. So there's that.
It feels a little cruel to drop the Brooklyn Nets all the way to No. 30, but the fates seem to have it in for this team anyway.
So we might as well pile on.
Case in point: Jeremy Lin returned Monday from the hamstring injury that cost him 17 games, played 20 minutes and then couldn't suit up for Brooklyn's next outing against the Lakers on Wednesday because of a sore back.
It was kind of the Nets to get a win over the Lakers after the entire bench laughed at Brook Lopez getting dunked on by Larry Nance Jr. Really, it was the least Lopez's teammates could do for him after that posterization.
The Nets went 1-2 this week, with a 10-point home win over the Lakers in-between road losses to the Rockets and Magic.
The Nets may have lost each of their games in San Antonio and Houston, but with Jermey Lin returning against his former club, the squad had a real opportunity to steal a victory. They didn’t, but with Lin returning after missing 17 games, the Nets will have a chance to win some games.