While the Brooklyn Nets aren’t a sure thing yet, they are a team to watch for that has all of the potential to explode out of the Eastern Conference.
They won’t be as a top seed by any means, but with the way that things are going in Brooklyn, the outlook on things isn’t all that bleak. Sure, the last several seasons haven’t suggested that good things are on their way — but that’s all behind them.
Analyzing the Brooklyn Nets Playoffs Case
Not only does Brooklyn have a chance to make the postseason, but they also have the ability to cause a potential first round upset in the playoffs. There are only a handful of actually strong teams in the Eastern Conference, and for the record they are the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics with the Toronto Raptors and others in the conversation.
That being said, there is plenty of room for a team like the Nets to sneak into the postseason. Let’s jump into the three reasons why we will see Brooklyn make it to the playoffs after a two year drought.
D’Angelo Russell Will Be on a Revenge Tour Like No Other
Alright, so if you’re D’Angelo Russell and you’re now in New York after the team that drafted you second overall sent you packing after just two seasons, what’s next for your career? Some will immediately jump at the fact that he landed on the Nets, but the reality of the situation is that this allows him to come out swinging.
Not only will we see an angry D’Angelo Russell, but he’ll be able to take over the show unlike his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Add to the situation the fact that the drama from the locker room and Nick Young debacle isn’t going to follow him, there’s no doubt that Russell will be on a mission to restore faith in his ego.
Statistically speaking, D’Angelo Russell would logically be the team’s primary scoring option. He holds a career average of 15.6 points per game — the best mark of anyone on the team — and can flow well alongside the listed shooting guard starter in Jeremy Lin. Lin averages just over 14 points per game, which feeds into the scoring mentality that Russell undoubtedly brings to the table.
The atmosphere will be one that’s harder to please, but it’s this kind of test that Russell needed to prove his maturity to his teammates and the rest of the league. There will also be a familiar face in terms of a big man in the form of Timofey Mozgov for Russell to play off of, which will also help him fit right in and take control.
Lastly, the beautiful thing for Russell about playing in Brooklyn is that he’ll be able to make the switch to the two guard if things don’t pan out as a point guard. The reason for that is thanks to Jeremy Lin’s ability to lead the offense and for Russell to be able to focus on scoring.
However, for the time being, it appears that Russell will be the starting point guard for the Nets to start the season.
Brooklyn is Arguably the Most Balanced Team in Their Division
Hear me out on this. The Nets are in the peculiar situation of not only being part of the worst of two conferences, but there remains a lot of unknowns that will factor into their playoff pursuit.
First of all, none of the other teams in their division have what it takes to win a title right now. New York is dysfunctional as always, Philadelphia could be in serious trouble if Markelle Fultz isn’t what they thought he’d be, and Joel Embiid is one injury away from giving away a chunk of their schedule, among other things.
Toronto has failed to produce in the playoffs despite having a team that has gotten them there, and have played much like the Los Angeles Clippers of the Eastern Conference. Everyone’s a year older on that team now, and there’s only so long a window for a team like them can stay open.
Lastly, the Boston Celtics were dealt a major blow in their season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Forward Gordon Hayward managed to dislocate his ankle and fracture his tibia in a nasty fall to the floor. This puts their supposed super team on hold, as Kyrie Irving will now officially be put in the driver’s seat with Boston.
Before LeBron James returned to Cleveland, Kyrie Irving was unable to put together a winning team in Cleveland by himself. You could argue that the time he spent in James’ shadow will help him now, but there is too much pressure for Kyrie Irving and the Celtics to be that good.
When you factor the Nets into the scenario, their starters can all hit from deep with the exception of Mozgov. Russell has an insane upside, Allen Crabbe has shown flashes of what he can do when he was in Portland, and we already know that in the right situation, Jeremy Lin can be dangerous. DeMarre Carroll can help them as well, being that he helps bring up the point that four of their five starters can connect from three-point land 35% of the time or better.
They’re the only team with a core capable to do what they seem set out to do, and that should scare everyone else in their division. But because they’re the Nets, they haven’t done that just yet.
Weak Eastern Conference
If the Nets were to completely miss the postseason, it would be an embarrassment to the team. Should the weak division argument not be enough for you, let’s factor in the conference they’re in as a whole for a moment.
Besides the Cavaliers, Wizards, and Celtics, none of the remaining slots in the playoff picture are even close to a lock. Boston comes up as a solid team with this argument because while they won’t be the best team in the league or the conference, they should by all means be able to get into the Eastern Conference playoffs without too many issues.
Brooklyn’s best point of attack would be to enter as a sixth seed, as that would mean they’ll avoid playing the top-seeded team in the conference until the third round, should either or both teams make it to that point. It would set up a date with presumably Boston, and the only reason it wouldn’t is if somehow another team comes running out of the dark.
Depending on the Kyrie Irving that emerges with the Celtics, the Nets could be on their way to winning in a first round upset. We saw it with the Celtics just this past season when they were heavily favored in the playoffs and struggled to get past the woeful Bulls in six games.
Don’t put off the Brooklyn Nets from getting to the playoffs just because they’ve established a bad stigma. It can only follow them for so long, and this is the year for them to break out of that funk once and for all.
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