The Nets approach the 1/8th milepost Monday night, their 10th game out of 82 and after an encouraging start — 3-1 in preseason and 3-2 to start the regular season — they’ve dropped four straight, their defense looking historically bad.
So, no surprise, those mean pundits have dropped the Nets into the NBA’s bottom five (and really, who can blame them.) In fact, the pundits are near unanimous in ranking the Nets at No. 26.
There are some fun facts, like USA Today noting that the Nets bench scoring is quite extraordinary. And a good, if unfortunate, line about Caris LeVert from Bleacher Report.
Since their win over the Cavs and their 3-2 start, the Nets are 0-4, with losses to the Knicks, Suns and Lakers. The offense has scored less than a point per possession over that stretch, with their five main starters combining to shoot 14-for-63 (22 percent) from 3-point range. They've seen the league's biggest drop (by a wide margin) in turnover rate and they still rank as the fourth most improved offense from last season, but they're trending in the wrong direction and their schedule is getting tougher. After they visit two bottom-10 defenses on Monday and Tuesday, Friday's game in Portland will begin a stretch where they play six of eight games against teams that currently rank in the top 10 defensively.
The Nets play at breakneck speed with a pace of 109.3 possessions per 48 minutes, nearly three possessions more than any other team and the most by any team through nine games over the past 20 seasons. They're allowing a league-worst 119.3 points per game, and five different players have scored 30 against them this season, tied with the Cavaliers for the most in the NBA.
Chris Barnewall, CBS Sports (27)
Ah man, it was cool to think about the Nets being good for a while there. Four straight losses, all of them by at least eight, and it's only going to get worse since they're in the middle of a West Coast trip.
The Nets are averaging 109.2 possessions per game (via NBA.com), 3.5 possessions faster than the second place Suns, but combine pace and a bad defense and you have five guys having dropped at least 30 points on the Nets this season. Brooklyn has dropped five of its last six, and suddenly all that talk about the pick the Cavaliers got not being all that good has been silenced.
Kenny Ducey, Sports Illustrated (25)
The Nets’ bandwagon is quickly losing members after four straight losses, including one to the Suns, and one to old friend Brook Lopez and the Lakers.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today (26)
Brooklyn's bench — headlined by Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe — leads the NBA in scoring with 48.4 points per game. The last time a second unit averaged 48-plus? Orlando, in the 1999-00 season.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report (26)
Caris LeVert looks like a star right up until the moment his shots don't go in, D'Angelo Russell has slipped and may still be suffering from the lingering effects of a knee injury, and the Brooklyn Nets have come back to earth after beating the Cavs on Oct. 25.
They went 0-3 this week.
Russell's ball-handling and offensive orchestration are integral to the Nets' attack, or at least they look like they should be. In the loss to Phoenix on Tuesday, backup Spencer Dinwiddie was running the show during most of a second-half surge. Russell finished as a minus-22 despite scoring 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Russell is exceptionally crafty, plays with devastating change of pace and creates shots with ease. But the ball doesn't move quite the same way when he's in charge, and there's no ignoring his defensive weaknesses.
Gerald Bourget, HoopsHabit (26)
Bigger Brooklyn Nets disappointment of the week: D’Angelo Russell‘s anticlimactic return to Los Angeles, or four straight losses lowering expectations after that surprising 3-2 start?
It was Brook Lopez who dominated a highly anticipated Lakers-Nets showdown, dropping 34 on his old team while Russell could only muster a 17-7-7 stat line on 8-of-24 shooting. With losses to the Suns and Lakers in their short week, perhaps the Nets will owe Cleveland a valuable first-rounder after all.