It’s almost unanimous. With one exception, power ranking pundits have the Nets at No. 25 ... with concerns that things could go south without D’Angelo Russell.
There’s a couple of interesting data points: Sean Deveney of Sporting News points out an increase in defensive efficiency. On the other hand, John Schuhmann of NBA.com says Caris LeVert has been “shaky over the last couple of weeks” and he’s not talking about his moves.
D'Angelo Russell made some rough late-game decisions earlier in the season and had some rough first halves last week. But in wins in Phoenix and Portland on Monday and Friday, Russell had two terrific fourth quarters, scoring 24 total points on 8-for-9 shooting. Then, with the Nets making another late comeback in Utah on Saturday, Russell went down with a left knee injury that will keep him out for the foreseeable future. With Spencer Dinwiddie also hurt on Saturday, ball-handling duties were left to Caris LeVert (who has looked shaky over the last couple of weeks) and Isaiah Whitehead (who was in over his head as a starting point guard last season).
D'Angelo Russell has scored 251 points this season. He is the first Nets player with at least 250 points in his first 12 games of a season since Vince Carter had 291 points through his first 12 games in 2008-09.
Chris Barnewall, CBS Sports (25)
D'Angelo Russell's injury leaves the Nets in a bad spot. They already don't have Jeremy Lin. Can they afford to lose another key point guard?
Kenny Ducey, Sports Illustrated (23)
They’re No. 1 in pace, so at least they’re entertaining to watch.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today (25)
Early reports indicate that D'Angelo Russell avoided a major knee injury in Saturday night's loss to Utah — comforting news for a Nets team that lost Jeremy Lin for the season on opening night. The third-year guard has been Brooklyn's best player thus far, averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
Sean Deveney, Sporting News (25)
Showed some defensive promise in the last four games of their road trip. Allowed 103.8 points, 43.2 percent shooting and 30.6 percent 3-point shooting, and split the four games.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report (25)
You're going to want to buy stock in Jusuf Nurkic, Rudy Gobert and Al Horford next week. Their teams will face off with the Brooklyn Nets, and pretty much every big man that has crossed Brooklyn's path this year has blown up.
Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily noted: "In 11 games, the Nets have allowed opposing frontcourt starters to average 34.4 points on 55.7 percent shooting. They’ve allowed six players to score 30 or more points, and five out of the six are bigs."
Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic both hit Brooklyn for career-high 41-point outings in October, and Nikola Jokic did exactly the same thing on Tuesday night.
The lesson: If you're a forward or center and want a new career high, just make sure not to oversleep on the night you play the Nets.
Brooklyn took down the Suns this week but finished 1-2 overall and sits at No. 25 in net rating. So 26th in the rankings feels close enough, wouldn't you say?