After finishing off last season with lousy record of 22-44, the Brooklyn Nets are achieving new heights. Currently at 20-15, the Nets are competing for a high playoff seed.
This is a huge stride in the course of just one season, primarily because of their revamped roster, especially the addition of Joe Johnson and having Gerald Wallace for the whole season (and a healthy Brook Lopez for that matter).
By the end of last year, fans saw this coming because the talent was there, just not completely put together. However, the question is this: exactly how much can the Nets improve over the span of just one season?
Brooklyn should finish anywhere from 44-38 to 50-32 and land a playoff spot ranging from the fourth to sixth seed.
In regards to last season, on the surface it seems unlikely to make a such huge stride in such little time. But as already stated, they now have their talent all together. The team on the court last year was not their best at the time, so it is justified to project a significant improvement.
True, they are 9-11 since starting off on fire at 11-4, but keep in mind that six of those 11 losses were within nine points, and they are 6-1 in their last seven games.
While All-Star point guard Deron Williams has started off slower than usual (16.6 points and 7.8 assists per game), he is averaging 19.3 points and exactly 10 assists per game this month. Is this a sign of more to come? Well, considering his abilities, he is bound to bounce back from his slow start.
As for Joe Johnson, he has proven that he can show up when they need him most. Put simply, he has been nothing but clutch.
Although aside form their offense, their defense has silently been a primary factor in their success. In fact, they have the fifth best defense in the league, allowing just 94.9 points per game. All of their guys have contributed to this, including the bench (especially Reggie Evans).
When judging playoff seeding, you need to look at the teams around them. For one thing, it is close to a lock that the Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers will seal the first three seeds. After that, seeds No. 4 to 6 are open to competition among the Nets, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics.
Based solely on their talent, the Nets have the potential to acquire the fourth seed. However, the Atlanta Hawks have been nothing short of consistent and beating them out would be difficult.
The only thing that strongly works against the Nets is the tough schedule ahead of them. Over the next two months they play the Hawks four times, the Memphis Grizzlies twice, the Knicks, Heat and L.A. Lakers. Despite how highly you think of the Nets, this is no easy road.
That said, their talent level and potential of playing better is nothing to ignore either.
This season, it looks like the Nets are an entirely different team because, well, they pretty much are one. Considering their fair share of obstacles already and their talent level, the Nets should have no problem getting at least close to a 50-win season.