- New-look Brooklyn Nets have become one of the most polarizing squads in the NBA
- Books have wildly differing odds on Brooklyn making the NBA Finals, with lines shifting from +900 to as much as +1400
- We preview the Nets’ upcoming season below, and offer our best prediction for their season finish
Fresh off the best off-season in team history, in which it acquired All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the future looks bright for the Brooklyn Nets.
Even without Durant, whose torn Achilles will keep him out the entire 2019-20 season, there is hope that the team can make it back to the playoffs for the second straight season. But once there, can the team make a run at the NBA Finals? The NBA Conference Championship Odds aren’t exactly in the Nets’ favor.
Brooklyn Nets Conference Championship Odds
*Odds taken on 09/29/19
The Polarizing Nets
Brooklyn is rapidly becoming one of the most polarizing teams in the NBA, at least as it pertains to how good this roster might be. On the one hand, there is a team that made a 14-win improvement from the 2017 to the 2018 seasons, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in four years.
On the other hand is the team that traded its lone All-Star – point guard D’Angelo Russell – to the Golden State Warriors as part of its deal for Durant. And Durant, who injured his Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, confirmed on Friday he will play no part in the 2019-20 season.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 27, 2019
While the absence of one of the NBA’s best players is obviously a big loss for the Nets, they knew what they were getting into when they traded for him and are playing the long game with the six-time All-Star.
However, they also added fellow All-Stars Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to the roster, as well as depth players such as Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler.
While Irving picked up a facial fracture during a pickup game last week, it’s not expected to severely impact his play, and he will be counted on to lead a team that is surprisingly deep, with Brooklyn’s bench ranking second in the NBA in scoring last term. And after the way his tenure ended in Boston – with his leadership ability coming under fire – Brooklyn fans can be forgiven for hoping he plays with an extra chip on his shoulder this season.
Part of Brooklyn’s success is the way that the team shares floor minutes, with 11 Brooklyn players averaging at least 20 mins per game last term. And after a breakout playoff performance against Philadelphia, where he averaged 21.0 point per game in the five-game series, 24-year-old guard Caris LeVert seems poised to take his game to another level.
"This was the vision from day one."
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) September 27, 2019
Spencer Dinwiddie provides reliability off the bench, Jordan will pair with Jarrett Allen to provide consistent defense at the center position, while Prince and Joe Harris will help spread the floor and provide solid play from the wings.
Coach Kenny on the center position: “I look at it as our biggest strength. We have real depth there…Those are two competitive guys. The problem is they both played really, really well today. I think those guys both know that they’re competing for something.”
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) September 28, 2019
Suffice to say, while Irving will be looked upon to lead this team on the court on a nightly basis, there is a nucleus of talent around him that can pick up the slack whenever he has an off-night.
While there are numerous positives, even in spite of Durant’s long-term injury, things aren’t all rosy. In addition to the facial fracture suffered by Irving, Chandler was recently handed a 25-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, while second-year player Rodions Kurucs was arrested a few weeks ago for allegedly choking his girlfriend.
Chandler won’t be eligible to return until December 15, while Kurucs, who averaged 20.5 minutes and ended his rookie season as the team’s starting power forward, is due back in court two days before the start of the regular season. It remains to be seen if a suspension is coming his way.
Contenders or Pretenders?
With all the changes around the team, the odds of this Nets team taking a run to the NBA Finals through the Eastern Conference have varied wildly, their odds are as short as +900 and as long as +1400.
Brooklyn was +500 to win the Eastern Conference earlier last week, but Durant ruling himself out for the year likely changed all that.
While Milwaukee and Philadelphia are both heavily favored to emerge as the Eastern Conference representative in the Finals, as the Toronto Raptors showed last year, depth can go a long way to securing postseason success. After all, who would have ever expected Fred VanVleet to set an NBA Finals record for 3-pointers off the bench?
In its season simulation, ESPN has Brooklyn creeping into the playoffs in eighth spot, which would set it up for a tough first-round series against Milwaukee.
.@kpelton projected every NBA team's win-loss record using real plus-minus. Here's how the postseason stacked up.
— ESPN (@espn) August 17, 2019
Outside of Milwaukee and Philadelphia though, the Eastern Conference really is a crapshoot, but the lack of Durant really makes the odds of a deep postseason run an unlikely proposition. While a team’s depth is important, star power is equally crucial – does anyone think the Raptors could have won last year without Kawhi Leonard, for example?
And even with a shock return, there’s no guarantee that Durant will be the same player he was before, in this or any future season.
Long odds on the Nets reflect the team’s reality, which is that a return to the playoffs and a possible first-round win are the most likely outcome for this new-look Brooklyn squad.
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