BORING. The pundits who put together weekly power rankings think the Nets are about the same last season, placing them in the 20’s, about the same place where the Brooklyns finished last season. At 1-2, we’ll take it. A lot of talk about Caris LeVert in the analysis.
Not breaking news: Turnovers are an issue for the Nets, who rank last in turnover ratio (20.5 per 100 possessions) and 29th in opponent turnover ratio (10.4) after Week 1. They miss DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who should be back this week) on defense, but Caris LeVert looks like a Kia Most Improved Player candidate, shooting 20-for-27 (74 percent) in the paint, getting to the line (he ranks ninth in free throw rate among 109 players with at least 25 field goal attempts), and getting the game-winner against the Knicks on Friday. Rodions Kurucs (the 40th pick in the Draft) has been a fun rookie to watch (this controlled finish after a full-court drive was impressive) but turned his ankle in the fourth quarter in Indiana on Saturday.
Getting a close win over the Knicks after narrowly losing in Detroit to start the season was a positive sign for the Nets. However, getting waxed by the Pacers by 20 was a reminder this team is only going to do but so much. If Caris LeVert can keep up this scoring output though, this team could pull itself to the top of the bottom pack of East squads.
Caris LeVert is making an early push for the Most Improved Player award, stepping forward as the leading scoring threat for the young and perennially rebuilding Nets. Jarrett Allen had been his interior lieutenant through two close games before struggling in a blowout loss to the Pacers, their first opponent that made the playoffs last season. On the horizon ... three straight road games against teams that also made appearances this past postseason.
Is Caris LeVert a star in the making? He’s one of the more inspiring stories you’ll hear in the NBA, from losing his dad as a teenager to having his college career maligned by injury. But three games in and LeVert is averaging nearly 25 points per game. The most important thing for these Nets isn’t getting wins but tracking the progress of the younger players.
Brooklyn’s lone victory came over the Knicks at home in a tight battle. That isn’t a ringing endorsement but the play of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen is enough to get anyone excited, particularly when remembering Brooklyn’s future flexibility.
The Nets got bit by the injury bug early on this season. DeMarre Carroll (ankle) is out indefinitely; Allen Crabbe missed the season opener; and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (personal, groin), Shabazz (right hamstring strain) and Alan Williams (left ankle) have yet to suit up for a regular season game. They also lost Treveon Graham to a left hamstring strain and Rodions Kurucs to an ankle sprain over the weekend. However, Hollis-Jefferson and Napier are both expected to return to the lineup Wednesday at Cleveland.
The Nets have shown some signs of life, making over 40 percent of their 3s in their last two games and with Caris LeVert looking ready to emerge as a star. They’re also getting outscored by an average of 7.1 points per 100 possessions and their lone win came courtesy of a LeVert layup with one second left, over the Knicks.