Bubble teams will not take the Brooklyn Nets lightly

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - DECEMBER 7: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - DECEMBER 7: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson /

The Brooklyn Nets have worked hard to forge a new culture and identity under  head coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks. It is because of this new identity that they will be a team no one will want to play late in the season.

Through 34 games last season the Brooklyn Nets were 8-26. They sit at 12-22 at the same point this current season. While a four-game swing may not look like a big difference, it’s in the way they are playing that is the difference.

The Nets are playing a better brand of basketball that is both efficient and competitive. At this point last season, the Nets suffered 16 losses by 10+ points, 12 losses by 15+ points and six losses by 20+ points. Contrast that to this season where they’ve lost 11 games by 10+ points, three games by 15+ points and two games by 20+ points.

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Not only have the Nets lost less games to this point, but their margins in those losses have been less as well. They are scoring more points, 105.6 vs 107.4 ppg, and allowing less points, 114.2 vs 110.7 oppg, making their point difference a better -3.3 as opposed to -8.6 from last season.

This has everything to do with the moves that Marks has made with the roster. He’s turned over a roster that saw Archie Goodwin, Justin Hamilton and K.J. McDaniels playing meaningful minutes, into one that’s respectable.

Bringing in D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe has made the roster one that not only looks better on paper, but performs better on the floor. He also added Jahlil Okafor, who has yet to see extended minutes, but his upside was deemed worth the risk.

A potential starting lineup of Spencer Dinwiddie, Russell, Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Okafor will make them competitive against any team. Couple this with Caris LeVert, Crabbe, Nik Stauskus, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen coming off the bench, and the Nets will be playing more close games throughout the season.

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Judging from last season, teams would see the Nets on the schedule and pencil it in as an automatic win. But after the start they have had this season and the grit they have shown on the floor, teams don’t take them so lightly.

They are experiencing success primarily without having Russell or Okafor on the floor. Russell is recovering from surgery and Okafor is still getting into basketball shape. Not to mention, the Nets lost Jeremy Lin early in the season to injury and needed to find an answer at point guard quickly.

The Nets fast pace on offense is a stark difference to past teams and has them sitting currently at fourth in the NBA in that distinction. This high pace is only magnified by the number of threes that the Nets take from every position on the floor.

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It is because of these factors that a bubble playoff team will not want to see the Nets on their schedule late in the season. Although the Nets probably won’t crack 30 wins again this season, they are capable of beating any team on any given night. Nets fans may not be able to look forward to the playoffs just yet, but the chance to play spoiler is a real possibility.