Stat-driven projection has Nets at 36 wins, 9th in East

Deron Williams, Alan Anderson

ESPN’s stat-driven blog 538, run by former New York Times election maven Nate Silver, has taken its hands at projecting the NBA. After running 10,000 simulations of the 2014-2015 NBA season, their projections have the Nets ranking second in the Atlantic Division… and ninth in the conference with a dismal 36-46 record, just missing the playoffs.

Here’s a snippet of what 538 writer Neil Paine says about the Nets:

It’s hard to imagine more going wrong for the Brooklyn Nets than what transpired last season. A tumultuous coaching turn by Jason Kidd (who bolted to the Milwaukee Bucks after a failed coup in June), the season-ending injury suffered by center Brook Lopez in December, the banged-up struggles of putative franchise player Deron Williams and the sudden collapse of Kevin Garnett’s game9 made it fairly astonishing that the ancient, staggeringly expensive Nets were even able to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Now Brooklyn has a new coach in Lionel Hollins, a (marginally) younger roster with 37-year-old Paul Pierce gone, and a surprisingly strong front-court duo in Lopez and second-year big man Mason Plumlee. But as was the case when they acquired him from the Utah Jazz in 2011, the Nets’ ultimate fate lies in the hands of Williams, a point guard with the talent — and salary — of a superstar, but not always the durability or production to match.

The projections have an objective slant (probably more objective than here, where we projected the Nets nine wins higher), but there’s also room for hope. They project Jarrett Jack to continue a steep decline after a rough season in Cleveland, and rough numbers for third-year forward Mirza Teletovic and rookie Bojan Bogdanovic. They also project Brook Lopez as the team’s third-most productive player, behind Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, which has a chance to switch if Lopez is healthy for the year.

The projections have the Nets ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (20-62), New York Knicks (31-51), and Boston Celtics (32-50) in the Atlantic Division.

538 — 2014 NBA Preview: The Sixers Are Going Nowhere Fast