2017-18 Brooklyn Nets
Projected Record: 25-57 (13th in East)
2016: 20-62 (15th in East)
- G D’Angelo Russell
- C Jarrett Allen
- G/F Allen Crabbe
- C Timofey Mozgov
- C Tyler Zeller
- C Brook Lopez
- F Andrew Nicholson
- Guard/wing depth
- No star power
- Early stages of rebuild
For the first time in a while, it feels like the Nets know what they’re doing. It’s going to be a while before that knowledge is felt on the court, though.
Like many others, I’m a big fan of the Nets’ moves this summer. They’ve embraced the tried-and-true tanking tactic of bringing on bad contracts as a way of adding assets, best exemplified by their trade with the Lakers to land guard D’Angelo Russell. Russell has been a mixed bag in his first couple seasons, but it feels like he should have been worth more than just a salary dump, even considering the Lakers’ desperation to clear cap space for the summer of 2018. A similar philosophy netted them Allen Crabbe, a potentially useful player despite not necessarily living up to the massive contract he landed last summer.
The misconception with the Nets seems to be that taking a smarter approach to roster construction means they’ll be a better basketball team immediately. I’ve seen people discuss whether the legendary unprotected Brooklyn pick (now owned by Cleveland) might lose value if the Nets start winning more games. This would be true, but… where are those wins coming from?
This roster should be fun. They’re young, they’ve got upside, and they have no reason not to play to win. Jeremy Lin should be healthier, which is nice, and D’Angelo Russell certainly has a lot of motivation to improve, along with management more open to building around him. Jarrett Allen was one of my favorite players in this draft class, and I think he’s flown under the radar as a prospect.
That said, they traded away their best player by far in Brook Lopez, and haven’t really replaced him (insofar as Timofey Mozgov is a reasonable replacement for anyone). I can’t argue that the Nets are going to contend for a playoff spot – or even 35 wins – when even with Lopez, they only won 20 last year.
Most Valuable Player: Jeremy Lin
Projected across a full season, Lin was playing the best basketball of his career last season, and the Nets had much more of a pulse. There are going to be a lot of guards jockeying for minutes in Brooklyn, but with Lopez gone, Lin is probably now the best player on the roster overall. How competitive the Nets stay throughout the year probably hinges a great deal on Lin’s ability to stay on the court.
X Factor: D’Angelo Russell
Russell is most likely not the guy Lakers fans talked him up to be over the past two seasons; I don’t believe he’ll ever make an All-Star game. That said, he’s 21 and has tangible basketball skills on the offensive end of the floor. This will be an important season for Russell, and the Nets stand to gain quite a bit if he impresses, relative to how they acquired him.
My ultimate feeling on the Nets is guarded optimism. I don’t see them suddenly becoming a playoff team, even in the East, but a five win jump is healthy for a team that has struggled as much as they have. I think the Nets are a step above the Bulls and Knicks in the East, and I like the long-term outlook of their current roster a little more than teams like Detroit, Indiana, or Atlanta. That will have to suffice for now, as this team is going to be very bad in 2017-18.