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Power Rankings: One step forward, two steps back

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Nets had their biggest win in two years last week, beating the Wizards by 35, but also lost to the Pacers in Indiana. The power rankings reflect that up-and-down outings and just as they have for the last four weeks, the Nets are stuck in the upper 20s, no higher than 22, no lower than 24. Makes sense, we must admit.

This being Christmas week, there are fewer rankings than normal.

John Schuhmann, (22)

Among the league's 50 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes, only the Mavs' Dirk-plus-bench supergroup has been better than the Nets' current starters, who have outscored their opponents by more than 24 points per 100 possessions in their 145 minutes together, with numbers better than both the league's best offense and its best defense. But, after ranking 13th in bench NetRtg (plus-1.0) through their first 13 games, the Nets have ranked 28th (minus-8.1) since Spencer Dinwiddie became the starting point guard. Caris LeVert has averaged 14.1 points on an effective field goal percentage of 57 percent over his last 10 games, but the Nets have been outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions (scoring less than 99) in his 282 minutes as point guard.

Jose de Leon, ESPN (24)

The Nets recorded their best win of the season on Friday, beating the Wizards by 35 points. It marked their first winning margin of at least 35 points since they beat the Wizards by 37 on April 10, 2015. -- Jose De Leon

Chris Barnewall, CBS Sports (22)

While this is the season of giving, the Nets would be willing to take a first-round pick off anybody's hands this Christmas.

Kenny Ducey, Sports Illustrated (24)

The Nets deserve Spencer Dinwiddie. They’ve taken chances on the right players over the past couple years (Jahlil Okafor could be next in line).

Daniel Lewis, Hoops Habit (24)

The Nets should feel good about their win over the Wizards, where they just started dunking, trip after trip down the court, in an impressive win for Kenny Atkinson and his motley crew. Spencer Dinwiddie has filled the void created by injuries to D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, and is averaging 14 points and 7 assists per game through December. Opponents are beginning to recognize the plays they run for Allen Crabbe, who is going to need to show more ability to create off the dribble to reach his ceiling. They’re going to struggle because of a lack of talent, which was on display in their loss to the Kings, but the foundation is being laid with quality minutes by players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert. You’re going to hear this a lot, but they’re a bad team headed in the right direction.

Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report (24)

The Brooklyn Nets' starters aren't the problem, which is something head coach Kenny Atkinson should consider in the wake of comments like these, as relayed by Brian Lewis of New York Post, who reported lineup changes weren't out of the question.

"Four losses in a row; we have to look at everything," Atkinson said.

Brooklyn's most used five-man lineup includes Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Tyler Zeller. Its net rating is plus-22.6 and has been nearly as effective during this four-game losing streak.

Atkinson should look at everything, but he might want to make changes elsewhere. And actually, this may just be a depth issue. The Nets don't have the horses to compete with other teams' benches, and one indicator of that is an inability to convert what should be the easiest looks on the floor.

Brooklyn runs plenty, ranking among the top 10 in percentage of plays defined as transition chances. Those are supposed to be a team's "gimme" buckets. But the Nets are terrible on the move, scoring .96 points per transition play, which slots them in at 29th in the league.