Power rankings often reflect not just a team’s record the week previous —the Nets were 2-1— but also transactions, injuries, etc. And so the acquisition of Jahlil Okafor was cited by a number of pundits in moving the Nets up a few places.
There are a couple of noteworthy stats in the rankings this week, as there always are. John Schuhmann of NBA.com (and the founder of ND) is not a fan of the trade and notes that the Nets “were at their best when Trevor Booker was on the floor.”
Sean Deveney of Sporting News provides an even more eye-opening stat: In the month of December —four games— the Nets are first in “defensive efficiency, 99.4 points per 100 possessions. Before December, they were 26th, at 108.1.”
However, as Alan Goldsher of NumberFire notes, the Nets are going to face a number of high powered teams this week: the Wizards (without John Wall), Raptors and Pacers, all ahead of them in the East.
Jahlil Okafor appears to be an awkward fit in the Nets' pace-and-space system and they were at their best when Trevor Booker was on the floor, but they got a second-round to see what Okafor can do over the next four months. Only the Warriors and Celtics have seen a bigger increase in offensive efficiency from the first half to the second half than the Nets, who have been 10.1 points per 100 possessions better offensively after halftime. A pair of strong second halves got them wins over Atlanta and Oklahoma City last week, but they appeared to run out of gas late in their second game at the high altitude of Mexico City on Saturday.
The Nets acquired 2015 No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor from the 76ers this past week. After dealing for D'Angelo Russell this summer, the Nets have traded for the Nos. 2 and 3 picks in the 2015 NBA draft. The Nets made two picks of their own in that draft: Chris McCullough with the 29th pick and Pat Connaughtonwith the 41st pick. They traded Connaughton on draft night and McCullough in February 2017 after just 38 career games with Brooklyn. -- Sarah Langs
Kenny Ducey, Sports Illustrated (19)
It’s remarkable how well the Nets have rebuilt considering they started with no picks and, like, two players with trade value. And that will still ring true even if Jahlil Okafor flops in Brooklyn. Credit goes to Sean Marks.
Sean Deveney, Sporting News (21)
Trend: December has been good for the Brooklyn defense. In four games this month, the Nets are No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency, 99.4 points per 100 possessions. Before December, they were 26th, at 108.1 points per 100 possessions.
AJ Neuharth-Keusch, USA Today (21)
Questions remain about newly-acquired Jahlil Okafor's fit with the team, of course, but the Nets now roster two of the top three picks from the 2015 draft in Okafor and D'Angelo Russell — a positive no matter how you look at it.
Alan Goldsher, NumberFire (22)
Brooklyn has won three of five and with the acquisition of a potentially legit center in Jahlil Okafor, could be an interesting team in the coming weeks.That week might not be this week, unfortunately, as they have to deal with Washington, Toronto, and Indiana. If they can hold on until D'Angelo Russell returns from his knee surgery -- and who knows when that will be -- a playoff spot is a distinct possibility. (Kidding -- they're totally lottery-bound.)