The Broken Nets…er, Brooklyn Nets…are well on their way to barfing out another Dumpster fire of a season. At 3-6, no matter what that 128-86 demolition of the Washington Wizards may try and tell you, they’re cooked.
Kyrie Irving is suspended indefinitely for graduating from Idiot School summa cum laude.
Ben Simmons continues to fear 3-pointers the way small children fear monsters under the bed.
And while Kevin Durant is off to a fantastic start (32.0 ppg, .522 FG%, .196 WS/48), you know he’s going to get hurt again. It’s just a question of when and what body part.
How do you even process a team like this? Not for nothing has all the Nets coverage this entire season in the media been about those first two points regarding Irving and Simmons. Gods know they defy serious basketball analysis.
But Let’s Try Anyway.
OK, let’s put approximately one-ninth of an NBA season through the statistical wringer and try to make projections.
We’ll start with the fundamentals. Brooklyn’s three wins came against three teams with a combined 13-14 record. The Wizards, Pacers, and Raptors aren’t bad teams, but they’re not good either.
Brooklyn’s Net Rating sits at minus-1.3, and that’s after a 42-point win. Take that out of the equation and the average pace-unadjusted margin drops all the way to minus-6.88. With the Nets playing at a 98.3 pace, that’s roughly a Net Rating of minus-6.8 so we’ll go with that.
A minus-1.3 Net Rating team projects out to something in the high 30s win-wise over 82 games.
A minus-6.8 Net Rating puts you closer to 25 wins.
And the 3-6 record the Nets now possess? You guessed it. 27-55 over 82 games.
So even with a 42-point win to their credit, this team STILL projects as a lottery squad.
Let’s talk D’Antoni Index. Ben Simmons has attempted just one 3-pointer all year, so you’d expect Brooklyn’s 3PAR to be below league average.
And, of course, it is. The Nets, at .378, sit 18th in the league, behind the average of .386, and Simmons’ shot selection plays a major role.
But it’s not like these guys are completely devoid of fundamentals. They’re seventh in FTR. And while they’re 19th in 0-3 foot attempt rate, they’re fifth in the league at actually making shots from that close.
So what’s the upshot of all this? Besides “the Nets make no sense, Kyrie Irving is an anti-Semitic chemistry killer, and Kevin Durant’s not going to stay healthy”?
Well, they’re not going anywhere at the rate they’re going now. They project as a 27-55 team, they just suspended an All-Star, their other All-Star is fragile as it gets, and they’ve got a head case who can’t shoot playing a role where he needs to shoot.
And it’s not like anyone else on the team can play worth a lick. Nic Claxton and Patty Mills have been competent starter-level players in the advanced stats (.149 and .118 WS/48 respectively), but who else do they have?
This team is, bluntly, far worse off than they were before they opened the wallets and tried to build a superteam.
The Nets of Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, and even D’Angelo Russell went 42-40, did so with far less clubhouse drama, and looked poised to make an actual run as the 10s turned into the 20s.
Since blowing that squad up, they’ve gone 35-37, 48-24, and 44-38, but they’ve only won one playoff series. Plus, that 2021 team is not the team they’ve got now.
If ever a team needed to take the opportunity to blow everything up and start over, this Nets team is that team.
They need to go full tank job. Trade Durant for picks. Trade Simmons for picks. Then trade Irving for a pastrami sandwich at a Brooklyn deli.
Then spend the next three or four years building via the draft. That will get them right back where they were in 2019, but with the lesson hopefully learned, they can be more like Boston or Golden State, two teams that competed in the Finals last year largely on homegrown and home-drafted talent and great chemistry.
Heck, Milwaukee won a title with drafted talent too. And speaking of Golden State, what was 2017 if not a demonstration that you build with one big free agent piece, not three? See also the 2021 Suns.
If you hate superteams, you should be delighted at Brooklyn’s failure. Everything the Twitter-and-barbershop set believes about the NBA has gone all the way out the window and it’s going to be great for the game.
So go Brooklyn’s opponent! Unless it’s the Lakers. I have my standards as a fan.