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Bleacher Report: Nets top 4 free agent destination in 2019

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s pundits are filling our pages and our hopes for 2019. A day after David Aldridge suggested the Nets would get a “fair” shot at Kawhi Leonard and Marc Stein said he expected Brooklyn to “aim” for Kyrie Irving, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report ranked the team a top four free agent destination next year.

Other than the 76ers, Lakers and Jazz, Favale said there’s no better landing spot for those top free agents in the next class.

Two first-round picks in next year’s draft (probably) and cap space? The Brooklyn Nets done changed, yo.

Favale suggests that the Nets appeal isn’t just about their restocked draft bin or their $50 to $70 million in cap space. It’s about newfound competitiveness, the result of chemistry, continuity and development, and, of course, the culture Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have created at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic.

General manager Sean Marks has spent more than two years amassing assets anywhere he can find them—from overseas, in the free-agency rough, in the Bulls’ backyard, between the couch cushions, etc. Head coach Kenny Atkinson, meanwhile, has installed a nitrous-powered, mostly egalitarian offense that gives everyone the green light to shoot, push the ball up the floor and, in many cases, dabble in half-court initiation.

Players, Favale writes, notice that style and want to play in it. They also like other things about the Nets.

They will notice the Nets’ emphasis on player preservation and family-matters gestures. They will see value in their penchant for maximizing and salvaging careers on the margins (Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris) or on the downswing (Carroll).

Moreover, he sees several Nets having breakout years, offering positive spin on virtually all the Nets young’um’s.

Caris LeVert is going to be really good. Jarrett Allen might be Clint Capela with better ball-handling skills and three-point range. Any one of the Nets’ contract-year projects could hit. Dinwiddie has shades of Mike Conley in the way he manages games. D’Angelo Russell has that superstar moxie on offense. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is Mbah a Moute-level three-point volume away from catching more buzz as a playmaking 4 who defends almost everyone.

It’s all very positive particularly for a team that’s won 69 games in the past three seasons and has had a history of serious injuries, but still Favale argues, “The Nets’ appeal is only just starting to align with a seasons long process.”

Other pundits logged in Monday as well. In a RealGM podcast, Tim Bontemps suggested that other than the Kawhi Leonard trade, the Nets ability to dump Timofey Mozgov’s big deal may have been the biggest transaction the Atlantic Division because it set them up to “have the chance to be an interesting player next summer.” Bontemps also said this summer’s moves had helped them “change their image around the league.”

As for this season, John Schuhmann of NBA.com ranked the Nets 11th in the East in his mid-summer power rankings, saying Brooklyn is “inching towards relevance,” but adding that the franchise really needs a big season from D’Angelo Russell.