Back in the old days —like two or three years ago— compiling the NBA Power Rankings used to be a lot easier. Most if not all came out on Monday mornings, led by the often newsy musings of NBA.com’s John Schuhmann (founder of NetsDaily ... all bow) and ESPN’s Marc Stein, now with the Times.
Then, the Monday deadline ceased to be set in stone and rankings come out on Fridays, Mondays, Tuesdays, etc. We are not pleased. Why does it matter? Well, sometimes a big game, meaning a big win or a bit loss, can affect the rankings. You know, like that game in the Garden the other night. Without uniformity, it gets confused.
All that said, here’s the latest, some before Monday, some after.
Last season, only the Mavs had more losses in games that were within five points in the last five minutes than the Nets (19-31), who are off to another rough start (1-3) in that regard, having suffered the most brutal of meltdowns in New Orleans on Friday. Jared Dudley and D’Angelo Russell submitted early entries for Dumbest Foul of the Season and Most Careless Turnover of the Season, respectively, as Brooklyn blew a five-point lead with the ball and less than a minute to go. The Nets’ only wins are against the Knicks and Cavs, but three of their losses are to the Pistons, Pelicans and Warriors by a combined 11 points. They’ve taken a step forward offensively and, having played three of their last four games against top-five offenses, their defense could be better than it looks on the surface. Jarrett Allen ranks as the league’s best rim protector, with opponents having shot less than 40 percent at the basket when he’s been there.
The Nets have been surprisingly competitive early, having won both games against opponents below .500 and losing by only a combined 11 points against the Pelicans, Pistons and Warriors. They will be put to the test this week, starting off with a winnable game on the road against the Knicks, followed by three straight challenges against the Pistons, Rockets and 76ers.
The Nets’ two losses this week were both near wins. If Joe Harris connects on his corner three attempt Sunday against the Warriors, the Nets might have finished off an energetic comeback that had Barclays Center rocking.
Caris LeVert coming out the gates as the leading scoring option is a shock considering what he did on the scoring end last season and the expectation by many that D’Angelo Russell would likely shoulder more responsibility, but here we are. If his three-pointers start to fall, LeVert might show this is a duty he can handle in the long-term, and if he proves to be that foundational of a piece, Brooklyn’s future could be on a drastic upswing.
Jarrett Allen’s rim protection in Year Two is also a welcome sight that could be a building block for years to come in Brooklyn. He will need to be a better rebounder with his size, though.
The Nets have the makings of a solid backcourt, as Caris LeVert has been remarkable, D’Angelo Russell is making a boatload of his 3s and Spencer Dinwiddie is a super-sub. I can’t imagine this team will make the playoffs, but they’re a well-coached team that’s been right there in three of their four losses.
I actually had the Brooklyn Nets much higher in my rankings, clocking them in at 16. The rest of the group apparently isn’t as high on them, probably due to a lack of top talent on this roster. The loss to Indiana was bad, but the other two losses happened to Detroit and the Pelicans — even though they kept Anthony Davis in check on offense. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant lit them up, but they do that to everybody. Even then, the Nets nearly came back to win that game.
These aren’t Billy King’s Nets anymore. This Nets team is well run, well coached, and highly competent. We need to show them a lot more respect than we show the Knicks. They aren’t the same joke anymore.
Welcome to the Caris LeVert breakout. He’s leading the Nets in scoring at 21 points per game while grabbing five rebounds and dishing four assists per contest. Finally, all that slithery ball-handling and craft is leading to serious production.
Not to be forgotten: Joe Harris, who’s made 12 of his last 15 three-point attempts.
Brooklyn got Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Shabazz Napier back this week from groin and hamstring injuries, respectively, which will help as the Nets leave the pushover portion of their schedule. New Orleans and Golden State loom next, representing the first real test for this 2-2 squad.
If Brooklyn hopes to have any chance against those two West powers, it’ll have to take better care of the ball. Nobody’s turnover percentage is higher than the Nets’.
There have been a couple of bright spots so far for the Nets. If it wasn’t for D’Angelo Russell’s careless turnover, they’d have an impressive win against the Pelicans under their belt. They also gave the Warriors a bit of a scare Sunday, but they didn’t have enough defensively to come away with their third win.
There is nothing wrong with the Nets losing to the Warriors and Pelicans, but dropping a 19-point decision to the Knicks is problematic. Of course, it is only 1 of 82 but Brooklyn has to be better against poor teams to be as frisky in an overall sense as some predicted.
The Nets have lost two consecutive games for the first time all season, but point guard D’Angelo Russell is heating up. Over those two contests, Russell averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.5 treys, while shooting over 60 percent from the floor and 3-point territory.
Brooklyn may have found a nice young player in 20-year-old big man Jarrett Allen. They drafted him with the pick received from Washington in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal.