Brooklyn’s first-rounder could be the most overrated asset in the NBA

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 27: Kyrie Irving
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 27: Kyrie Irving /

The NBA offseason never ceases to amaze. This past week, all-star point guard Kyrie Irving was sent to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Net’s 2018 first-round pick. Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers’ rookie general manager, managed to get Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and a potential top pick.

The Cavaliers now seem equipped to get back to the finals, and build for a potential future without LeBron James. Of course, that is all depending on where the Net’s end up drafting. And the way it looks, the Net’s first-rounder seems like the most overrated asset in the league.

In order for a franchise to succeed, the front office and the team has to be on the same page. The two most deciding factors for a team’s success is its direction and identity. Sean Marks has been responsible for leading the direction of his new franchise. The New Zealand-born general manager inherited an incredibly tough situation – to say the least.

From that position, he has acquired young players with untapped potential in D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and Jarett Allen. Additionally, Marks has found a way to take on huge deals and benefit from underrated and possibly misused talent. Just take a look at Allen Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov, and DeMarre Carroll. Marks has certainly done his part. But without a competent coach to utilize these newfound personnel, all of his work will be for nothing.

Kenny Atkinson, coach of the Nets since 2016, has certainly done his part. Atkinson has been the architect behind building the identity of the new-found Nets. In attempts to build a tight-knit team, Atkinson created one of the happiest group of 15-men in the NBA. Atkinson’s ideal player is blatantly clear – an overlooked, under-appreciated player out to prove their critics wrong. Sure, the Nets are taking big gambles on Russell, Crabbe and Carroll. But one of these long shots is sure to succeed.

The respect for the Nets has arguably never been lower. In fairness, the way the Nets looked last season, it would be reasonable to assume that the Nets have a high chance of having the worst record in the league this upcoming year. However, the Nets have no incentive to tank, like many other teams do. The Nets do not own their first-rounder this upcoming season. Not to mention, they have a young, talented core that they want to develop.

According to ESPN projections, the Nets will have the third highest bump in win total from the past season. They are only trailing Jimmy Butler’s Timberwolves and the 76ers. Looking at Brooklyn’s point differential from last year – at 6.7 – those numbers are more along the line of a 25-win team, compared to their 20-win season. This means that many of Brooklyn’s games last year that came down to the wire, didn’t end up going their way.

Therefore, the Nets expected wins would naturally go up assuming they have the same roster. This a sign of hope for Brooklyn, considering that the Net’s roster has vastly improved since the last season and their bad luck last year. With no incentive to tank and a talented roster, a 30-win season for the Nets isn’t far-fetched at all. Teams like Atlanta, Indiana, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, and Phoenix are all in positions to tank. Additionally, most of those teams don’t even sport rosters comparable to that of the Nets.

Unfortunately, for Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman, banking on the Net’s pick to secure their future after LeBron doesn’t seem like a reliable insurance method. The Nets are way better than people think, and once again, it seems like Danny Ainge has traded away a commodity with depreciating value…