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Pelton projects Nets at 37 wins with potential to ‘challenge’ for playoffs

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s all quite early. Even though rosters are nearly full around the league and cap space exhausted, pundits like Kevin Pelton are moving from grading off-seasons to forecasting regular season wins and losses.

In his ESPN forecast, Pelton assigns a numerical total to each of the NBA’s 30 teams, based on ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM) along with a projection of games played and a best guess at playing time. Pelton admits he’s upgraded his system after some big errors last season. He had the Nets at 31 wins last year, not bad considering that the starting backcourt missed 125 games.

This year? Pelton thinks the Nets off-season moves and continuity put them at the edge of playoff contention, projecting them with 37 wins and 10th place.

Projected wins: 36.8

The Nets should take a solid step forward from last season’s 28 wins after filling out their bench with newcomers Ed Davis (projected minus-0.6 RPM), Jared Dudley (minus-0.8) and Shabazz Napier (minus-0.8), all of them solidly better than replacement level. As a result, Brooklyn could challenge for a playoff spot in the first year the team owns its first-round pick outright since 2013.

For the record, he has the Nets 2.6 wins out of the eighth and final playoff spot. he has projected the Pistons and just behind the Hornets. Would that be enough to attract top free agents a year from now? Hard to tell.

If you want to know where that projection would put the Nets current pick stash, here ya go: The Nets own pick would be the 11th, the Nuggets protected pick at No. 25 and the Knicks second rounder at No. 35.

Overall, Pelton projects a few surprises like the Lakers at .500 —and out of the playoffs— despite the addition of LeBron James and the Knicks with only 30.8 wins, even if Kristaps Porzingis plays 41 games.