As it does every six months, ESPN+ takes a shot at ranking the futures of all 30 NBA teams ... and the Nets recent success as well as their stockpile of draft picks, cap space and market has them jumping from No. 18 in September to No. 12 now.
Bobby Marks, the former Nets assistant coach, and Kevin Pelton cast the Nets in a very positive light both overall and in the individual categories that make up the final ranking. The rankings look three years down the road. Here’s the explanation, written by Marks...
Brooklyn has set the blueprint for how to rebuild and develop players.
Devoid of lottery picks to build a foundation, the Nets have taken advantage of shrewd trades (D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert), second-chance players (Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie), and draft picks outside of the lottery (Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs) to develop a roster that is now competing for a playoff spot. With a strong player development program, Brooklyn has turned the same roster that ranked No. 26 in September to one that is now No. 13.
Now the question heading into the offseason: Can the Nets capitalize on this season and attract an A-list free agent on the level of Kevin Durant? Loaded with $30 million in cap space, two first-round picks, a roster that returns the same starting five (including Russell, a restricted free agent) and the New York City market (No. 6), Brooklyn will have a strong case to make to free agents.
The Nets are tied for 13 in terms of the current roster, tied for 14th in management (seems low) and tied for ninth in draft picks.
Lots of positives there, particularly when compared to their crosstown rivals, who ESPN drops six points from being tied for 18th to being tied for 24th.
If we relied solely on cap space, draft assets and big market appeal, New York would rank No. 1. However, because we cannot put a ranking on faceless free agents, the Knicks fall back five spots from September based on a developing roster. New York ranks No. 28 there with only four players -- Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson -- on guaranteed contracts for next season.
High rankings in cap space and draft assets could foster an accelerated rebuild. The Knicks enter the offseason with the potential of $70 million in room, a likely top-three pick and future draft assets from the Porzingis trade.
In particular, the Knicks rank 28th in players, tied for 21st in management (seems high) and tied for fifth in Draft picks.
Considering that under the previous regime —including Bobby Marks— the Nets were ranked last three years, not bad, not bad at all.