There are no defined rules for power rankings. They can represent the state of a team over the course of the season ... or the course of the week. It’s the writers’ decision. You can see that in how various NBA pundits rank teams. Some give more weight to what a team did since the last power rankings, some keep a more cumulative list.
The Nets had a relatively good week, their best since the early days of the season, handily beating the Grizzlies, a playoff-bound team, and the Knicks, an acknowledged “super team” (cough, cough). Also, Jeremy Lin is back and playing well. That should have, in our opinion, moved them up a notch or two, certainly ahead of New York.
Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that most of the pundits still have the Nets at No. 30; the good news is that for the first time since January 2, there isn’t unanimity that the Brooklyns are the worst in the NBA. John Schuhmann of NBA.com and Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report put them at No. 29. The Lakers move into the basement in their assessments.
Hooray for us. As Jeremy Woo notes in his ranking, “baby steps.”
The Nets are 3-4 in March, having scored 116.5 points per 100 possessions in the three wins. They made a season-high 19 threes in Sunday's win over the Knicks, which ended a 12-game losing streak within the Atlantic Division, a 16-game losing streak at home, and a 20-game losing streak vs. the East. They still have a 33-game losing streak in road games within the conference and a 20-game losing streak in the second games of back-to-backs, but beating the Knicks (doable) and Celtics (not-so doable, but would also help their draft position) this week would end both of those.
The Nets are the only team in the league with the little "e" next to their name in ESPN's NBA standings, which obviously denotes that they've already been eliminated from postseason consideration. A good month -- by the standards of this incredibly challenging season for Brooklyn's die-hard fans out there -- continued last week with two more wins as well as increased minutes for the back-from-injury Jeremy Lin. Sunday's victory over the Knicks, on "Biggie Night" in honor of Notorious B.I.G., inevitably got most of the headlines. But we owe an overdue hat-tip to Nets center Brook Lopez, who recently became just the second player in club history to crack the 10,000-point plateau. Lopez is up to 10,108 career points, closing in on all-time Nets leader Buck Williams (10,440). (The fact that the Nets don't have a 20,000-point scorer in their long NBA history, mind you, tells just how fleeting success has been for this franchise.)
Here's a question. If you look beyond the long-term value of having Kristaps Porzingis and instead just look at this season and what's gone on, would you have rather been a Knicks fan or a Nets fan? The Knicks have won more games, but that's only made them more disappointing. The Nets, on the other hand, are awful, but they have no expectations, and some fun young players. If you're going to be bad, would you rather be fun bad or nauseatingly close to not-being-totally-awful?
They are going to finish with the worst record in the NBA (much to the joy of Boston Celtics fans), but the Nets are close to moving out of the bottom of these rankings having won three of their last seven. That included beating the Knicks on Biggie night in Brooklyn, can they return the favor on the road this week?
Positive Nets fact of the week: They just beat the Knicks somewhat comfortably and ended a 16-game losing streak at Barclays Center. Baby steps.
The Nets haven't had much to write home about this season, but they walked out of FedEx Forum on Monday night with their heads held high. Led by point guard Jeremy Lin, who has missed the majority of the season with hamstring issues, the Nets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Grizzlies, 122-109. Lin finished with 18 points — tied for his most since the second game of the season — and had 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Break up the Brooklyn Nets, baby!
This makes it two straight weeks with a win, which, by the warped standards necessarily applied to a team still comfortably on pace to finish the year with a victory total in the teens, counts as a streak.
The Boston Celtics don't need to worry about their swap rights depreciating in value just yet, though.
Knocking off the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday helps get Brooklyn out of the cellar. It's hard to believe this is really happening, I know. But with Jeremy Lin back (he led the Nets with 18 points in that win over Memphis) and Caris LeVert continuing to show signs of developing into a starting-caliber player on a good team, there's room for optimism here.
Also, the Nets have not made the news for being soft or undergoing a messy front-office overhaul of late. That counts for something.