Will Nets Be Horrific Next Season?


Rebuilding seasons are usually anything but pretty, but when it comes to the 2015-16 Brooklyn Nets, a pair of ESPN.com NBA writers envision the team’s upcoming campaign resembling the hideousness of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In a pair of recent columns, Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle explain why they believe the new-look, Deron Williams-less Nets are bound to be nothing more than bottom-feeders by the conclusion of next season.

In addition to predicting that the Nets would be in the same boat as the Philadelphia 76ers – “likely lottery,” Pelton threw his own dose of reality into what Brooklyn accomplished toward the latter end of 2014-15:

The Nets’ second-half surge was something of a mirage. While Brooklyn went 17-13 after adding Thaddeus Young, the team was outscored by 0.9 points per game. And that was with Deron Williams at point guard. The Nets outscored opponents by 1.6 points per 100 possessions with Williams on the court during the second half, per NBA.com/stats. Brooklyn was minus-6.0 points per 100 possessions after the break with replacement Jarrett Jack on the court. Gulp.

Then there’s Doolittle’s harsh assessment of the incoming Nets roster:

The more I look at it, the more I think the Nets will be truly putrid this season. But they do have Brook Lopez.

If reading this collection of discouraging words hasn’t caused you to give up on the Nets months in advance, I’ll add some perspective.

General manager Billy King has finally taken the proper steps toward constructing a Brooklyn roster that is not only younger, but in the process he’s prepared himself to make a push for the prime talent that would be on the free agent market in the summer of 2016. The previous Nets teams owned by Mikhail Prokhorov would’ve never brought in unknowns such as Willie Reed and Quincy Miller and question marks like Andrea Bargnani, Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin all in one offseason. Winning championships was always too important.

Winning, in general, is still important for these Nets, as Prokhorov made clear in a message to fans earlier this offseason.

Lopez isn’t the only quality NBA player on this roster. Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Jarrett Jack come together with Lopez to form a starting lineup that should be more than formidable, especially in the flimsy Eastern Conference. And if first-round acquisition Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finds himself replacing Bogdanovic in the starting unit, the Nets have high hopes that he could be a solid contributor in his rookie season.

The bench is the real major concern for Brooklyn, but would it be so horrific that it would plunge this group to the East’s basement? That thought process could be quite a far stretch with such quality talent on the floor the majority of nights.

Of the seven Eastern Conference teams that found themselves in the lottery this summer, only two have made enough strides to become serious playoff contenders next season: Indiana and Miami. Whether Boston, Milwaukee or Washington will return to the postseason remains to be seen.

Lionel Hollins has made it clear since the end of last season that he wants to push pace with greater frequency, and with a roster that has increased athleticism he’ll be able to do just that.

And if he can win 38 games and make the postseason experimenting with a myriad of offensive philosophies (as he did last season), I like Hollins’ chances of squeezing out another 38+ wins and making another playoff appearance playing a consistent style of basketball with a roster that suits the approach.

They don’t project to be tremendous, but next season’s Brooklyn Nets don’t necessarily have to turn out utterly repulsive, either.

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