Nets 2016-17 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2016

Brooklyn Nets newly acquired guard Jeremy Lin smiles during an interview following a press conference to introduce the team's new players Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in New York.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The Brooklyn Nets approach the 2016-17 season after holding the league's third-worst record at 21-61 last year. It was the third time in the past six seasons they've won less than 25 games and the sixth time since 2008 they've missed the playoffs. 

While there isn't much to suggest there will be a historic improvement in Brooklyn, the Nets have a new coach in Kenny Atkinson, and the addition of Jeremy Lin has at least given the team a possible starting point guard who could anchor the backcourt for years to come. 

With the league's release of its schedule on Thursday, here is a look at important information regarding the Nets' 2016-17 season. 

   

2016-17 Details

Season Opener: Wednesday, October 26 at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET

Championship Odds: 250-1 (via Odds Shark)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

   

Top Matchups

New York Knicks

First Away Matchup: Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Madison Square Garden, 7 p.m. ET

While Lin has made his return to New York as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, there will be something added in his return this season as a member of the crosstown-rival Nets. 

After all, it was at Madison Square Garden where Linsanity began back during the 2011-12 season:

The Knicks have been searching for a reliable point guard ever since Lin signed with the Rockets the following season

If he's able to stay on the court, Derrick Rose may finally be that guy for the Knicks, who acquired the veteran in an offseason trade with the Chicago Bulls.

All eyes are going to be on Lin and Rose when they take the court on Nov. 9. The Nets will be keen on proving they have the No. 1 point guard in the city. 

But this is a game that Atkinson could also use as a statement against his former team, which will be in its first year with new head coach Jeff Hornacek. Atkinson was an assistant on the Knicks' coaching staff from 2008 to 2012, and getting the best of them in the regular season could show the Knicks what they missed out on.

    

Charlotte Hornets

First Matchup: Friday, Nov. 4 at Barclays Center, 7:30 p.m. ET

This game also has another Lin aspect as a main storyline. He'll have an opportunity to take the floor against his former team and show he wasn't just backup material, as he spent the 2015-16 season behind Kemba Walker on the depth chart. 

In no way should Walker have ever surrendered playing time in favor of Lin, but it will add fuel to the newest Nets point guard's fire to succeed against this particular team. 

Brooklyn, though, can also use this game as a measuring stick to see just how far it can go in 2016-17. Last season, the Nets lost all four games to the Hornets and allowed an average of 109.5 points per contest. 

But three of those Nets losses were by less than 10 points, as a more stout defense could have stolen a couple of wins last year.

With the loss of Thaddeus Young, who led the Nets last year with a defensive win shares mark of 2.2, per Basketball-Reference.com, pressure will fall on All-Star big man Brook Lopez to be an enforcer near the rim and anchor their defense.

Against a Hornets team that was ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference last season, an early 2016-17 win could do wonders for the Nets' confidence moving forward.

    

Record Prediction

Luckily for the Nets, they compete in the weaker Eastern Conference that only has one or two teams considered at or near the elite level. 

That means five or six playoff spots are up for grabs, though the Nets would have to surprise a lot of people in order to be a part of that conversation.

Lin provides an obvious upgrade at the point guard position compared to Jarrett Jack. His scoring and facilitating ability should open up more opportunities for his teammates, especially Lopez, on the offensive end. 

However, the Nets don't have much more in terms of scoring, which makes veteran shooting guard Randy Foye an important piece to their success. 

Signing with the Nets in July, the 32-year-old Foye will compete for playing time with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but he has shown flashes of being a solid secondary scorer in the league. He's averaged almost 11 points per game as a pro and could see an increase in those numbers if he can jell well with Lin and Lopez. 

Expect those three to lead the scoring attack in Brooklyn next season, but if something were to happen to one of them in terms of injury, the Nets are in for a long year.  

Prediction: 32-50

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