Power rankings are a bit difficult nowadays as we’ve noted. Instead of all coming out on Monday morning, they’re spread out over days. So we wait now until Tuesday now to post them.
But this week, there are some highlights, starting with a special appearance by Marc Stein, who for years did the weekly power rankings for ESPN. He’s now at the New York Times and for old times’ sake, he did a one-time mid-season report. He did have the best line of the week to describe the Nets, “They play so annoyingly hard.”
And Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated gave a shoutout to the “Spencer Dinwiddie #NBAVote movement, calling it “pretty admirable.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
John Schuhmann, founder of this site (all bow!), provides the week’s fun fact, that only Russell Westbrook has taken more shots late in the game than Dinwiddie, and our guy is shooting it better that last season’s MVP!
The numbers are mid-twenties with the higher rankings from analysis earlier in the cycle.
The Nets are making a run for the Mavs’ Team #LeaguePassAlert title, with seven of their last eight games having been within five points in the last five minutes (and two against East playoff teams going to overtime last week). Only Russell Westbrook (4-for-17) has taken more shots to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime than Spencer Dinwiddie, who is 5-for-15 on those shots after a 2-for-5 week that included the game-winner in Atlanta on Friday. With D’Angelo Russell possibly coming back this week, it will be interesting to see how Kenny Atkinson manages the minutes (and late-game touches) of the two point guards, who have played just 46 minutes together in the 11 games in which they’ve both been healthy.
The Nets elicit virtually the same reaction from every coach or executive the Committee encounters: “They play so annoyingly hard.” Brooklyn has developed Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie nicely, acquired the former No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor in an opportunistic trade and appears determined to drain as much value as it can out of its first-round pick — which, remember, now belongs to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade.
The Nets and Kings are the only teams without a qualified player averaging 15 points per game. Two of the three 30-point games for the Nets this season came from D’Angelo Russell, who hasn’t played in two months, while the other came from Spencer Dinwiddie in an overtime game. By contrast, they’ve allowed 17 30-point scorers this season, the most in the NBA.
Can Spencer Dinwiddie actually make the All-Star team? Well, no, as Joel Embiid showed us last year even the most successful viral voting campaign in history won’t be enough. But man, these Nets fans are going HARD to get Dinwiddie there this season. It’s pretty admirable, and he’s got some pretty solid numbers.
Two overtime losses in the same week is killer. If Brooklyn had beaten both the Raptors and Wizards things would look really different in this week’s rankings. Alas, some things aren’t meant to be. On the plus side, the Nets are probably better than most of the league’s bottom-dwellers, which is progress from last season.
The Brooklyn Nets’ first two losses of the week were hard-fought affairs. Jayson Tatum put them away late in Saturday’s 87-85 loss to the Boston Celtics—a game in which Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may have deserved (but didn’t get) a trip to the foul line on Brooklyn’s final possession. And then the Nets took the Toronto Raptors to overtime before falling 114-113 Monday.
This low in the rankings, close losses to the conference elites are effectively wins.
D’Angelo Russell is practicing with the team after knee surgery and should return to game action soon. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson isn’t concerned about the dynamic between Russell and incumbent starter Spencer Dinwiddie, whose emergence at point guard means he’s earned the high-leverage minutes.
While they’ve been a much better all-around team this season than year’s past, especially considering their slew of injuries, the Nets are the only team in the NBA without a win against a division opponent (0-8).
The Nets lost to the Raptors Monday in overtime, with Spencer Dinwiddie missing a shot on a drive that would have won the game. Dinwiddie had 31 points, continuing his strong play while filling in as the starting point guard for D’Angelo Russell. It was the Nets fifth straight game decided by three or fewer points. The breakout season for Dinwiddie hit a bit of a speed bump against the Pistons on Wednesday, with Dinwiddie only able to muster two points on five field goal attempts in a thorough drubbing. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 15 points, nine coming from the free throw line, but the Nets reserves got pasted and the game got away from them.
Dinwiddie got his train back on the tracks against the Atlanta Hawks, finishing one rebound shy of a triple-double and delivering some clutch baskets to secure a 110-105 win. The Nets ball movement was, as the youths say, on fleek, and they tied a season-high with 29 assists in the game. They closed out the week with a close game against the Wizards, pushing Washington to overtime in a 119-113 loss in a game where oddly enough they never held a lead. The Nets are just 2-7 this season in the second half of back-to-backs, something they will have to address in the future if they want to become a playoff contender some day.