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Last pundit calls are in: Can Nets make playoffs? DLo a breakout star?

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Jarrett Allen calls it his last day as a rookie. Other Nets see it as first travel day. Tuesday is also the last day pundits can get their licks in. (We will have our forecast tomorrow, but we are definitely not pundits!)

One thing we’ve noticed is that slowly but surely the pundit class thinks the Nets have a chance to make the playoffs and D”Angelo Russell is ready for a breakout. Here’s a sample...

Kevin Pelton over at ESPN thinks the Nets chances of making the post-season are at 31 percent best bet for wins is 37. He believes a good start would help.

Consider the Nets also in the mix for a playoff spot in the East. A good start is crucial, because if the Nets are out of the playoff mix in February, they might choose to deal veterans on expiring contracts (DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis).

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John Schuhmann at NBA.com (and the founder of NetsDaily ... all bow) has the Nets at No. 23 in his preseason power rankings. That’s also where the finished last season. He likes what they did in off-season, still has doubts about DLo.

The preseason Nets were a lot like last season’s Nets in that they had stretches where they looked really good, they had stretches where they looked pretty bad, they turned the ball over a lot and there was no clear hierarchy in the rotation. In fact, with the (solid-but-not-spectacular) additions they made this summer, sorting out a healthy roster may be more difficult than ever for coach Kenny Atkinson. Jarrett Allen looked freakish in his ability to protect the rim, but got bullied by Enes Kanter on the glass. Caris LeVert was difficult to stay in front of, but had as many turnovers (17) as assists. And while D’Angelo Russell looked really sharp in running the pick-and-roll at times, the Nets were (again) better with him off the floor.

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Analytics guru Nate Silver at 538.com who mostly does political prognostication (but as a Brooklyn resident has been seen at Nets games) thinks the Nets will finish with a 36-46 record and a 34 percent chance at that playoffs. Not bad. (He has the Knicks as his worst team.)

The bottom of the East is a disaster zone. A couple of bad teams from 2018 (the Nets and Magic) are slowly moving more toward respectability — if not playoff contention — but the Hawks, Bulls and Knicks figure to be among the league’s worst yet again. New York in particular has the worst CARMELO rating in the NBA.

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The New York Times devotes a half page in Tuesday’s sports section on their NBA preview (so far only available in the print edition.)

The Times polls seven of its writers on the NBA season, the big winners and losers, who will win the big awards and who will sit alone atop the basketball world come June.

Two writers —Sopan Deb and Kelly Whiteside— picked DLo for Most Improved Player while Scott Cacciola picks Kenny Atkinson as coach of the year. In the “Wild Personal Prediction” category, Cacciola and Harvey Araton think Nets will playoffs.

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The Ringer answers a lot of random questions —like which team will most miss its franchise player and the answer is “Portland and that superstar is Ed Davis”— as well as some big ones, like “Who will be this season’s Pacers?” meaning the big (positive) surprise.

I’m going with Brooklyn, and I’m casting D’Angelo Russell as Victor Oladipo.

Russell was traded two seasons ago, but the former second overall pick hasn’t lived up to the hype he had going into the draft. His stint with Los Angeles ended in new Lakers management discarding and dissing him. Russell’s too many seasons in (this will be his fourth) for his shortcomings to be excused as him just being green, but he’s still a season away from permanent membership in the club of top draft picks who are decent but the public’s given up on them being truly special. (Club president: Michael Carter-Williams. Treasurer: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Waiting on his card in the mail: Nerlens Noel.)

The Pacers also had a group of adequate players who as a unit became passable behind Oladipo’s very, very strong lead. There’s a chance that the Nets could have something similar this season with Jarrett Allen, Allen Crabbe, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeMarre Carroll. It also helps when the expectations are as low as Indiana’s were last October, and Brooklyn, which is projected to have the East’s 10th-worst win total, shares that quality without question.

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Chris Sheridan writing for Amico Hoops, thinks Jarrett Allen will be most improved.

Most Improved Player: Jarrett Allen, Nets. Jimmy Butler would be based in Brooklyn by now if not for the high hopes the Nets hold for Allen, their center of the future. Back when the Butler talks were first getting underway at the start of training camp, word on the street was that Butler could be had for D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen. Guess who the deal-breaker was? May challenge Rudy Gobert for the league lead in blocks.

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Finally, a few Nets players and the team itself get votes up at corporate in the SB Nation prediction game. Among other things, there’s the first name Charles Barclays mispronounces (Rodions Kurucs); the first player to get MVP chants that hasn’t won MVP before? (D’Angelo Russell); first player to hit 10 three-pointers in a game (Allen Crabbe); who will be the first player not named Jimmy to be traded (Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie) and first team to beat their over/under prediction (32 wins).

There you have it, a round-up of the final, final punditry before the ball goes up.