It’s hard to gauge this week’s Power Rankings. Most were completed before the holiday weekend, when the Nets were the losers of three straight. Some appear to have been completed after Monday night, when the Nets won their second in three tries. Others are in the form of New Year’s resolutions.
Still, as always, the pundits provide some insights in compiling the list. So here ya go.
The Nets' defense continues to have more bad games than good ones, but on the other end of the floor, the progress of Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson remains encouraging. Hollis-Jefferson's boxscore numbers probably won't stand out enough to earn a spot on many Most Improved ballots, but the skill development is clear to eyes than have watched him over his three seasons. He led the team in scoring and rebounding last month and has averaged 17.8 points (on 51 percent shooting) and 8.7 boards over the last six games. It will be at least another year before he's comfortable beyond the arc, but he ranks sixth in mid-range field goal percentage among the 50 players with at least 100 attempts and ranks third in post-up field goal percentage among the 34 players with 50 attempts. It hasn't always been pretty, but it's been pretty effective.
The absence of D'Angelo Russell has paved the way for Spencer Dinwiddie, who is averaging twice as many assists and field goal attempts than he did last season. Did you know that Dinwiddie has the most 30-foot 3s this season? He has more than Stephen Curry, James Harden, Devin Booker, Klay Thompson and Eric Gordon combined. Dinwiddie has shot 50 percent from 30-plus this season; those five stars have combined to shoot 20 percent.
Spencer Dinwiddie has a very enjoyable Twitter account and great advanced metrics this season, so a group of fans are making a push to get him to the All-Star Game. The Nets aren't very good, but moments like this are enjoyable.
Brooklyn’s starting/closing five — Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Tyler Zeller — outscore opponents by 21.4 points per 100 possessions, and allow less than a point per possession on defense. The bench, on the other hand, is a disaster, but if they can keep the game close the Nets best five can hang with almost anyone.
Remain committed to Jahlil Okafor’s fitness. Brooklyn says Okafor’s not going to play until he gets into shape, and it should not bend.
An odd stat for an odd team: Half of the Nets' wins this season have come against teams in the Southeast Division (they're 7-3 against Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and Washington).
It isn’t often that the Nets can simply show up and take care of business on the way to a win but that occurred on Monday against the hapless Magic. With that victory and a bludgeoning of the Heat earlier in the week, Brooklyn continues to be a cut above the dregs of the league.
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.