A sampling of several NBA Power Rankings lists shows that the Brooklyn Nets are still fighting to get out from the shadow of their former hopeless selves.
The NBA Power Rankings are mostly out after a vigorous first week of play in the league that is seeing an offensive explosion across the NBA. A scan of those rankings shows that not many of the evaluators see much from the Brooklyn Nets as of yet.
The Nets opened to a 1-2 week, winning their lone home game against the New York Knicks and taking to losses on the roads, a close defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons in the opener and a thumping from the Indiana Pacers Saturday night.
The big talking point across the league is offense. Teams are averaging 112.9 points per game through the first seven days of the schedule. That compares to an average of 105.8 through the same period of time last season.
For posterity’s sake, it’s worth pointing out there had been 48 NBA games played through the first seven days of each season, so the sample size is the same.
Evaluators are pointing out some common elements about the Nets’ first week of play:
- Turnovers are still a problem (come on, Brooklyn is only a minus-10 per game in turnovers, what’s the problem?)
- Caris LeVert has turned heads with his offensive outburst thus far.
- Jarrett Allen blocked Blake Griffin‘s dunk attempt.
A look at sixratings shows the Nets with an average ranking of 23.3 — solidly in the bottom tier.
The rankings chosen for this review include:
- HoopsHabit (Gerald Bourguet)
- ESPN.com (panel of five)
- NBA.com (John Schuhmann)
- CBSSports.com (Reid Forgrave)
- Yahoo Sports (Tommy Beer)
- SI.com (Khadrice Rollins)
The high-water mark for the Nets came from NBA.com, where Brooklyn checked in at No. 21. The lowest was a No. 25 ranking from Yahoo Sports.
The Nets were No. 24 in the lists from HoopsHabit, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and No. 22 in the CBS Sports rankings.
Based on what little we’ve seen so far, that’s probably a pretty fair assessment. But I still have the Nets on pace to go 41-41 with their current 1-2 record. They’re on pace to go 41-0 at home and 0-41 on the road, after all.
We’ll be unveiling our own Power Rankings at Nothin’ But Nets, but they’re not going to begin until Dec. 4.
Why is that, you may be wondering?
Power Rankings make me pleased that the NBA Playoff field is determined by wins and losses on the court. Nothing else. Just that simple.
Sir Charles In Charge
Because — and this is no disrespect intended to anyone who does these rankings, but rather just putting the blame on human nature where it belongs — Power Rankings have a tendency to retain a strong preseason bias long after the season is under way.
To wit, if someone puts a team at No. 5 early in the season and that team struggles, it might take a month for that team to fall out of the top 10. Even if the team appears on its way to a non-playoff season, the team may still boast top-15 rankings well into February.
That’s where human nature comes in — few people want to admit they were wrong.
This is the inherent flaw of the much-debated playoff system in college football. So much of the rankings used for this are predicated upon preconceptions formed in August about which teams are good and which ones are not.
Are you ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the preseason? Congratulations! Your chances of surviving a loss — particularly an early one — and still reaching the playoffs are pretty good, all things considered.
Ranked in the lower end of the top 25 or not ranked at all? Pro tip: Don’t lose. Period. You will be the college football version of one-and-done. Heck, you’ll have a hard time moving up the necessary amount to reach the field of four even if you do run the table.
Call me old-fashioned (because, hey, I am), but I need more data points to examine before I start diving into ranking teams. While I catch every Nets game and watch a lot of basketball, I freely admit I don’t see every minute of every game.
So, short of that, I need to rely on some hard evidence to determine how the rest of the NBA is playing.
It’s why, once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and there was no such thing as a public Internet, I didn’t start thinking about NBA awards until around March 1.
I’ve backed that up to Jan. 1 since, because the MVP race appears to begin somewhere around July 1 of each league year now.
I mean, I saw a tweet Thursday morning — a serious question, not a joke mind you — asking: “If the season ended today, who would be the MVP?”
If the season had ended Thursday, it would have meant that four teams wouldn’t have played a single game and the other 26 would play just one. (Those playoff tiebreakers would be a nightmare, too).
Seriously? We’re going to have serious discussions about MVP awards after 26 teams have played at most 48 minutes each?
So, yes, when there is enough data to make a reasoned assessment, we’ll be all in.
For the Nets to move up in the interim, they will have to start taking better care of the basketball — for starters — and it wouldn’t hurt if the defense could maybe think about taking it away from the other team.
Because even in a small sample size, that minus-10 turnover differential thing will make success elusive at best.