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NetsDaily Preseason Roundtable: One Last Look

One more time. Here’s a final look at what the fine writers of NetsDaily think about the Nets season. Take a look below to see what they predict will happen in Brooklyn in 2017-18

NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

1. What are you most looking forward to this season in Brooklyn?

Net Income: I was looking forward to D'Angelo Russell. Then I watched Allen Crabbe vs. the Knicks. Hard choice. I’m also interested in seeing how the team’s success or failure affects or doesn’t affect the rebuilding process. Will Sean Marks keep to the program if it looks like the Nets could make the playoffs? Last year, 24 different players were under contract between October and April, a team record. Will there be similar turnover this season?

Tom Lorenzo: Honestly, there's a lot I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to seeing how D'Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin co-exist at the guard position, and how Allen Crabbe works out - can he be the stretch wing of the future for the Nets? Also Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, how both of these young wings can continue to grow into legit NBA talents. While the bar is set kinda low, I think there is more to look forward to this season than there has been since the inaugural season in Brooklyn.

Reed Wallach: It has to be the fact that the Nets are going into this season with a hint of upside. Sure, they are still in the beginning stages of their organizational overhaul, but with D’Angelo Russell in place, the Nets have their first franchise cornerstone since Deron Williams was acquired. I haven’t been this excited since the Boston trade for what is going to come from this franchise, and anything will satisfy me. I’m not looking forward to seeing games played in the spring of postseason significance, but I’m looking forward to seeing Sean Marks plan begin to take shape. Let the young bucks run loose and shoot the three as much as possible. The Nets may be stumbling into some real success.

Anthony Puccio: I'm excited to see how the young group has grown, namely Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, and Isaiah Whitehead. Add D'Angelo Russell into that mix and it should be fun to see how these guys begin to grow together.

Brian Fleurantin: I'll go with Caris Levert. He flashed a lot of potential last year and now that he's further removed from the knee injury that ended his time at Michigan, I'd love to see how Atkinson will use him over the course of the season. I think he'll be the starting two guard by the end of the year, if not sooner.

Richard Denton: Last year, the Nets barely avoided averaging the most turnovers per game, just 0.2 less than the Process. Maybe the rest of you aren't as patient as me, but I'm looking to crawl before we walk, and will not be playoff hunting before we can put halfway entertaining basketball out on the floor. This year, I'm hoping our two starting point guards will help keep us from fumbling the ball away in traffic, or at least keep the team afloat if one goes down with injury. With such a young team, "growth" usually doesn't have a negative connotation, but I'm happy to say goodbye to the parade of growing pains that Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie presented last year. As bad as we were, we finished 12th in points per game. These possessions are crucial to a team that isn't defending anyone.

Brian Egan (Glue Guy): Last year we were surveying the basketball landscape for undiscovered wells of talent, players with subterranean pockets of potential. This year, we’re one step further in the extraction process - though we’ve located the potential, the question will be, can Kenny Atkinson grease the basketball pumpjacks and reap the rewards? Lin, Russell, LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson, Crabbe, all of these guys could ostensibly take giant leaps forward this season, even guys like Whitehead and Dinwiddie have considerable room to grow in their own rights. And I expect at the very least one or two of the aforementioned players to seize the fate of their own untapped potential, and ride it to basketball semi-greatness. Watching that unfold, I suspect, will be both as agonizing and tantalizing as waiting to strike oil.

Michael Smeltz (Glue Guy): Every single little bit of improvement from D'Angelo Russell. Everything this season is about how good D'Angelo is and how good he can potentially be. If his play remains at the same level as it was these past two seasons, that will be a major disappointment. Even though he's just 21 (!!!), he's basically out of excuses. This Nets team is the perfect situation for him. He doesn't have the pressure of being with the team that drafted him #2 overall, and he's on a team that does not have any real expectations for competing. All about growth!

2. What will be the most surprising development of the season?

NI: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson develops a complete game and emerges as the heart of the team. He is still only 22, the fourth-youngest player on the team, after Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo Russell, and Isaiah Whitehead. There’s been a marked improvement in his all-around game this preseason (and at the NBA Africa game this summer.)

TL: I mean, it starts with the guard play, for me, but to take a step back - I think the Nets are going to have to solve their bigs problem. Does RHJ stick at the four? Does Timofey Mozgov actually make a dent? What about Jarrett Allen? I mean, one of them is going to have to step up - to some extent. And I think that is going to be Rondae, and his development I feel like is going to be tied to DeMarre Carroll. Getting Carroll on this team does one thing now for the Nets, and I think that one thing is help RHJ develop on both sides of the floor. I don't think Rondae is going to be a superstar, but if we're tagging him as a Gerald Wallace-like forward, I think that Carroll is going to be a big help in getting him there.

RW: DeMarre Carroll, finally healthy, providing the spark the Nets are going to need. Carroll is a swiss army knife of sorts and I see him mostly playing the four this season with wingmen like Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert in the fold. Carroll is going to provide veteran leadership and move the Nets along their timeline. Getting him for absolutely nothing, the Nets are going to be enamored with Carroll’s ability to defend, provide a stable dose of scoring and that he will find that three-point shot that he didn’t showcase last season in Toronto.

AP: Caris LeVert. He showed ridiculous upside last season and he didn't even have Summer League, training camp, or preseason under his belt.

BF: Hmm, I'll go with Mozgov playing like a capable big man that can give you decent minutes. He hasn't had a good (or fully healthy) season in a while so my expectations for him are very low.

RD: The world will stand still if it's discovered that Kenny Atkinson now sleeps 8 hours a night. Beyond that miracle, I think Jarrett Allen, forgotten through Summer League, can win the approval of fans willing to dive into deep metrics. At any time, Allen can walk onto the floor surrounded by four guys who can stretch the floor (outside of Rondae and Trevor). To this end, DeMarre Carroll's three-point ability and potential to play PF was pointed out by Nets fans once the trade was announced. However, not as many may know that Mozgov shot 45 percent on field goals between 10 feet and the three-point line. By rarely being counted on to score, look to see him make an impact in post defending and screen setting; underrated parts to Brook Lopez's game. The collective message between the Markinson hive-mind and draftniks demand we temper expectations for this rookie, but I think he'll contribute to the NBA sooner, rather than later, but maybe not in the highlight reels.

BE: I think we are going to be slightly stunned by the pace at which this team plays at this season. Consider the following: we led the league in possessions per 48 minutes last year. The three players that averaged the highest MPG for the Nets last year, in order: Lopez, Bogdanovic, Kilpatrick (to be fair, that’s per game, not total minutes played, but even still, Brook’s total is like 500 mins higher than the next guy). It seems to me we were playing fast-paced basketball without especially fast-paced personnel for much of the year.

In the absence of Brook, bless his golden soul, I think this team is about to fly this year. Giant credit is owed to Brook for his ability to adapt his skillset to playing to the #moderngame. I reckon he’s added years to his career by tacking that 3-point shot onto his game last year. But still, his strengths were/are as a finisher, a flasher, a banger, a mismatch abusing mastodon. That style of play naturally takes a bit more clock to work around than a pure motion offense. And especially with Mozgov, Allen, and Zeller as this year’s prospective rim rollers, I think we’re about to play much more motion strong offense and much less PnR, as well.

MS: Jeremy Lin trade. It makes too much sense for it not to happen. Not immediately, but as the season goes on, we will be getting tweets and whispers about Lin's availability. It'll be clear early enough that the most logical lineup for player growth is D'Angelo and LeVert in the backcourt. Lin has a player option for next season and is exactly the type of player that is valuable to top teams. Another Wizards-Nets 1st round pick deal feels right.

3. What will D’Angelo Russell’s stat line look like?

NI: 18 and 6. Thirty-seven percent from three. Before preseason, I would have said 22 and 6, but the way in which shots are spread out, I don’t expect him to get enough shots to average 20 or more.

TL: Man, that's tough. I think 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds would be a great win for the Nets. His ceiling could be higher than that, but let's not get too crazy until we see him take this first step toward 'owning' a team.

RW: I keep trying to tame my expectations of Russell, but it’s really hard to. He’s simply electric on the floor. His passes are poetry and his shot is so smooth. I’m expecting him to take a big step forward this season with the keys to the franchise. I’m probably overestimating, but I think he should be averaging 20 points, five assists, and more than a steal per game.

AP: 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

BF: I'll go with 17 points, six assists and three rebounds a night on a 44/35/82 shooting split.

RD: D'Angelo Russell has played just under 29 minutes a game in his first two seasons, and in our high-tempo offense, I don't expect him to play significantly more with all the guards in our rotation. His increase in scoring between these two years was due to an increase in three-point attempts. Otherwise, his attempted field goals were almost unchanged. I'd expect a similar increase to follow another increase in three-point attempts. I'm putting him down for 17 points, 4.5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game.

BE: Of all the players mentioned in my response to the first question, I should mention my hopes remain unjustifiably high that this will be a proper breakout year for D’Angelo. I’m talking like, James Harden in his first year with Houston high. Now, to opportunistically build on that comparison with some inexact, but otherwise compelling similarities: if D’Angelo can assume the role of a 2012 James Harden, can Caris Levert be a 2012 Chandler Parsons-esque player? Can Jeremy Lin be a 2012 Jeremy Lin-esque player (i.e., the version of himself that plays >70 games)? Can Jarrett Allen or Timofey Mozgov be a 2012 Omer Asik (i.e. be tall and play basketball)? Do I even need to get into the ways in which a 30 year-old Demarre Carroll resembles a 23 year-old Patrick Patterson? Further, is that team’s brand of basketball not eerily similar to the systems we intend to employ this season? I dunno guys, call me crazy… I’m thinking like 23/6/4 - with average to sub-average shooting percentages (to help account for the fact that we won’t be winning 45 games this season).

MS: 19 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Ultimately not that different from his past two seasons, but it'll be cleaner AKA more efficient play.

4. What will deem this season a “success?”

NI: Continued progress so that top free agents will take a hard look at Brooklyn come July. That would be a big deal. As Luis Scola told Zach Lowe this summer, the Nets will be able to get the best free agents once they start winning. They have everything else.

TL: They can move either Kilpatrick and/or Booker for a future pick? No one gets hurt - or, seriously hurt? I don't know, there's really no marker for success for this team. I guess most of the success is in the front office - like, don't do anything stupid. That's a success.

RW: Finish outside the bottom five of the league would qualify as a resounding success for me. More importantly to this season is seeing players such as Russell, LeVert, and to an extent Allen, proving to be legitimate NBA players and that they can be part of a more successful future in the coming years. It is all about steady returns on the investment, and I want to see some of them this season.

AP: Improvement. This team may not be all that great, but they aren't last year's 20-62 depleted Nets team. They have more talent and they have some continuity with nine players returning. It's crucial we see strides from the younger guys that are going to be part of the future going forward, and that includes Kenny Atkinson.

BF: Everybody affiliated with the team says playoffs, but I don't see it. I think Levert taking a step forward and Russell having a steady, well-defined role where he can fully develop will make this season a success for the Nets.

RD: I'm expecting nothing but joy in the comments if the Cavs end up with a draft pick lower than fifth, but it's clear that the front office values The Progress. We need Lin to be more dependable. Rondae needs consistency out of his jump shot and the strength to defend taller forwards in the key. We'll need to keep an eye on team-level markers as well. A team more familiar with itself should see a decrease in turnovers per game, while I'll hope Carroll and Allen can make defensive pride contagious. Don't fret, Nets fan! As long as we don't finish at the bottom again, several of these should come to fruition. We're years away from needing the fine comb to elucidate areas of improvement. Until then, success can be generally defined. Oh, also if we finish higher than the Knicks.

BE: In keeping with my previous lines of thinking, for me, this season is all about individual player growth. This year may well serve as a kind of referendum on the player development skills of coaching and management. In order to deem this season a proper success, at least one of the players on our roster has to have a breakout season, I would think. As I’ve said, my money is on D’Angelo, but I’m still a marginal believer in the possibility of an 18ppg/7apg season from Lin, or a 15/5/4 season from LeVert. Even something like 12/8/3 with good defensive stats from rondae would help move the needle in this regard. But, to be clear, this is the season where we must start seeing at least a few isolated examples of blossoming in order to continue the faith in our current model.

MS: D'Angelo's play this season justifies sending Brook Lopez to LA and for the Nets to take on Mozgov's contract. LeVert moves from 'He looks good on the court' to 'He plays well on the court.' And they play well enough as a team that at some point in February, we here at NetsDaily write the story 'Can the Nets ACTUALLY Make the Playoffs?' Answer will be no, but contending for a playoff spot would be a huge achievement.

5. Prediction (wins/playoffs)

NI: Oh boy, this is getting tougher every day. I will go with 38 wins, clinching playoffs on last day of the season! Last year, I had them winning 17 games. There are times (when I am delusional) that I recall preseason 2001 when NO ONE had the Nets making the playoffs. Maybe they’d win six more games with Jason Kidd, the pundits said. Like I said when I’m delusional.

TL: How about 29 wins and no playoffs? I think that's where I'm at now. Cautious, but a little optimistic - though not enough to say 33 wins.

RW: Vegas has the Nets over/under at 28.5, and give me that over. I see 32 wins this season. Call me too optimistic, but I can see this team stumbling into the playoffs if the East is as bad as it may be and a few teams such as Detroit and Charlotte fall off. The key trend I’ve noticed is that the Nets are past being depressingly bad. They have a coach, a young team that is going to play hard, and a game plan. Some teams—the Pacers, Bulls, and dare I say, the Knicks—don’t have a clear vision right now. That will help Brooklyn win more games.

AP: 36-46, 10th seed

BF: 26-56, missing the playoffs.

RD: We got better this offseason, but outside of the Bulls and Knicks, don't all teams say the same thing? Expect a slow start as Russell, Lin, Caris, and Crabbe figure out where to find each other between a diverse set of lineups. Last year we were 4th in three-point attempts, 10th in total rebounds, and I think we're bringing a better version of the same paradigm. Let's go lose 52 games next season!

BE: I actually had to go back and update this based on the preseason clinic I just saw. I initially had 29 (the safe, Vegas-style answer), but after seeing the spectacle of us power-whooping on some Eastern dregs, I'm going to not so bravely increase my total up to 36. I may end up regretting this addendum, but this team is so infectiously full of good vibes, I can't help but meet them half-way.

MS: No playoffs, but give me 34 wins. A 14-win improvement! Would be huge.

So there you have it. Print this out and then in April, shove it in our faces and shout at us (or not).