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Nets edging up in ESPN future power rankings ...

ESPN is out with its semi-annual “future power rankings,” defined as its “projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.”

The Nets are rated No. 18, tied with the Knicks, which is up from No. 19 in the last survey and up from No. 30 when Sean Marks took over in early 2016. A long time ago.

Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks rate each team in five categories and rank them relative to the rest of the league. The five are: players, management, money, market and Draft.

What’s the big headline for Brooklyn?

The Nets are now tied for FOURTH in draft assets. FOURTH! Only two years after being dead last. As we said back then, “Can’t rank something you don’t have.” Only Atlanta, Boston and Phoenix rank higher.

Similarly, the Nets are rated FIRST in money, that combination of cap space and willingness to spend. Brooklyn may not officially be tops in cap space but they’re close. Plus they have two owners with $21.5 billion in net worth who can easily pay out luxury taxes if Marks and Co. recommend they go over the cap and tax threshold. (The three years covered by Pelton and Marks match the years that Mikhail Prokhorov has left as principal owner. Joe Tsai has the option to take control in 2021-22.)

The front office that acquired all those picks is ranked eighth, behind Golden State, Houston, Boston, Utah, San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City and just ahead of Indiana. (We wonder whether Pat Riley is running on fumes, but that’s just us.)

The big issue for the future is that the Nets roster has only jumped by four in the past two years, ranking 26th. That, Pelton and Marks note, is the key data point. Only Cleveland, Sacramento, Charlotte and Atlanta are lower in Pelton and Marks’ eyes. The Nets will need talent, suggest the authors, if they want to flourish in the future.

As it has in the past, ESPN ranks the Brooklyn market sixth while the Knicks who share the New York metro area is third. We always thought Brooklyn, being Brooklyn and all, should be higher. The Lakers and Golden State rank Nos. 1 and 2.

Bobby Marks, the Nets former assistant GM, offered this summary of the Nets situation down the line.

After a summer of shrewd trades by the front office, Brooklyn has replenished its draft assets, opened cap flexibility for the future and built a roster combining young players (six players selected since the 2015 draft) with reclamation-project veterans (such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Shabazz Napier).

If Brooklyn can get winning basketball from point guard D’Angelo Russell, the Nets will not only challenge for a playoff spot but also will have a selling point to free agents in June. Even if not, at least they finally can use their own first-round pick.

Napier as “reclamation project?” Interesting.