The Nets’ hopes of making the playoffs lie largely on faith. To believe this team can make the playoffs after losing three key contributors to a team that fell backwards into the final seed hours after their final game, you have to buy into the idea that the team’s improved chemistry without Deron Williams is worth at least some of his on-court contributions. Or that they can get a big season or two out of their cobbled-together nomadic bench. Or that Brook Lopez can build off his strong second half even with Williams’s pocket passes headed to Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas.
It’s the idea that, in theory, a few veterans in the starting lineup and young punches off the bench is enough to win them a few games more than anyone expects.
But the odds, and the numbers, are stacked against them.
Earlier this week, data-driven ESPN outlet 538 released its prognostications for every NBA player’s career, and that early showing didn’t look good for the Nets. Now, their official team preview is out, and it’s as ugly as you might’ve thought. 538’s CARMELO projection puts the Nets on the verge of a 25-57 season, a 13-win drop from last season’s win total.
The post is called “Sorry, Nets fans.” (Alternate title idea: “It IS that bad here.”) It’s nothing if not honest: CARMELO projects only two players — “Brooklyn’s Frontcourt” of Lopez and Thaddeus Young — as making positive overall contributions, with Joe Johnson’s lackluster defense canceling out his otherwise steady offense. Andrea Bargnani projects to have the team’s worst overall plus-minus impact, though the projection predicts Bargnani will see close to 1,600 minutes, which would be his highest in five seasons.
The team’s total projected net rating is -7.3 points per 100 possessions, which puts them on par with last year’s Los Angeles Lakers (-7.2). The Lakers finished 21-61 and picked up the second overall pick in the NBA Draft. That would be good news, but Brooklyn’s first-round pick belongs to the Boston Celtics.