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In final Power Rankings, Nets get (some) respect

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Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Nets have won four of their last five and have a .500 record (11-11) since the current starting line-up was installed. And as John Schuhmann (founder of this here site) points out, the Nets have been the most improved team in the NBA since the All-Star Break, as measured by any number of metrics.

For most pundits, that means giving the Nets a few upticks in the rankings, but not everyone. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports still has them at No. 29 as does Jeff Zillgitt and the USA Today. Highest ranking? Gerald Bourguet of Fansided and Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report both have the Nets at No. 21. We’ll take it!

So here they are, the last power rankings of the 2016-17 season...

John Schuhmann, (22)

With a post-break NetRtg of minus-0.0, the Nets have been the most improved team since the All-Star break, 8.0 points per 100 possessions better than they were before it (minus-8.1). Jeremy Lin's return has helped them rank seventh in offensive improvement (3.6 points per 100 possessions better) and a more favorable schedule has played a part in the most improved defense (4.5 better). But Kenny Atkinson and his team have also earned their 11-13 post-break record. If Sean Marks doesn't feel too burned by his 0-3 record with restricted free agents, it's safe to assume he'll be targeting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Otto Porter in July, though not to take playing time away from Caris LeVert, who is clearly the team's best young prospect.

Marc Stein, ESPN (22)

What do Jeremy Lin and Joel Embiid have in common? When Lin starts at point guard for the Nets, they're 13-19 this season, right there with Philadelphia's 13-18 record when the Sixers have Embiid in the lineup. When Lin is out injured or forced to come off the bench this season, Brooklyn is 7-41. June is still going to be plenty painful when Nets fans watch the Celtics happily take possession of Brooklyn's pick right at or near the top of the board, but give the Nets this much: They're finishing a long season with a still-happening flourish, winning four of six overall and going 11-11 since March 1 with Lin returned from a lengthy injury spell and being joined in the starting lineup by Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The sight of Buck Williams at Saturday night's home finale against Chicago -- with Brook Lopez closing in on Williams' franchise scoring record -- was fun for us nostalgic saps.

Matt Moore, CBS Sports (22)

The Nets will hit their over on win total next season. No, that's not a joke. There's a culture in place that will pay off, even if they struggle to add to their talent. There are good things happening in Brooklyn.

Kurt Helin, NBC Sports (29)

While they finish with the worst record in the league, the Nets quietly went 11-13 after the All-Star break and played pretty well. Part of it was Jeremy Lin getting healthy and providing some offensive spark, but credit coach Kenny Atkinson for getting this team to not just roll over, and this was a good offensive team after the break. They have a lot of money this summer, look for them to try and poach some restricted free agents with big offers (as they tried to do last summer with Allen Crabbe, for example).

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated (26)

The Nets are finishing on a high note, pulling out a one-point win in their final home game of the year and doing their best to spoil the Bulls’ already-crappy season. With a healthy Jeremy Lin, this is a team that stands to improve marginally next season.

Jeff Zillgitt et al, USA Today (29)

The Nets, who have a 41-121 record of the past two seasons, have the third-best record in the NBA in April. They've won four of their five games, including a 141-118 rout of the 76ers and a one-point win over the playoff-hopeful Bulls.

Gerald Bourguet, Fansided (21)

The Brooklyn Nets had Boston Celtics fans sweating there for a minute, but with the Suns and Lakers both on win streaks, they wound up securing the worst record in the NBA this week.

The Nets are 7-4 over their last 11 games, which is a testament to Jeremy Lin‘s return along with the strength of a supporting cast that includes Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Sean Kilpatrick and even Archie Goodwin. That’s about as good as the good news gets though, since nothing is going to dull the pain of potentially handing over that No. 1 overall draft pick.

Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report (21)

The Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers had the same record in March: 7-10.


And after the Nets logged three straight victories to start April, they actually have a better mark than the defending champs over the last six weeks.

It turns out Jeremy Lin really matters to a scheme dependent on spacing and capable pick-and-roll ball-handling. He had 15 points and six assists in Sunday's in over the Atlanta Hawks, and then added 16 points and seven dimes as the Nets piled up 141 points to smoke the Sixers on Tuesday. His return after the All-Star break coincides directly with Brooklyn becoming a respectable basketball team.

It also doesn't hurt that Brook Lopez is doubling down on his perimeter shooting. He's averaging over two made treys per game since March 1.

Break up the Nets.