Offseason Power Rankings: Celtics and Bucks Lead the Eastern Conference

2021-22 record: 44-38

Speed: 99.4 (11), turning off 113.2 (10), DefRtg: 112.3 (20), NetRtg: +0.9 (15)

Main add-on(s): Royce O’Neill, TJ Warren

Main departure(s): Bruce Brown, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, any positive vibes that may linger

Three numbers to find out…

  • In the three seasons since joining the Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played in just 58 games (including Play-In Tournament and playoffs) together. nets 34-24 (.586) in those matches, but outnumbered their opponents by 9.4 points per 100 possessions (recording 120.9 per 100) in 1,736 minutes on the ground together.
  • The Nets ranked last in defensive rebound percentage, both in the regular season (taking only 70.4% of available defensive panels) and in the playoffs (64.2%).
  • Durant had an effective field goal percentage of 42.8% in the playoffs, down from 57% in the regular season. This was the fifth largest drop among 89 players with at least 50 field goal attempts post-season. The Nets still scored more efficiently (115.0 points per 100 ownership) in their series against the Celtics than the Bucks, Heat or Warriors did.

Question key: What if there is no trade (trade)?

Making a trade is easier said than done, especially when another transaction (see Gobert, Rudy) sets a standard (regarding payout) that is hard to override. Durant is under contract for four more seasons, and with 11 weeks left until opening night, the Nets don’t appear to be close to any kind of deal. But will he shine and shine if he’s still on the list on October 18th? And would the nets be willing to please Irving if she didn’t trade for him?

Feelings aside (we used similar wording on Ben Simmons’ team this time last year), the Nets have the talent to compete with the best teams in the East. It looks like Simmons is on the right track toward his comeback and the Nets could complete two of the best one-on-one players in basketball history with two of the top four players in the 3-point ratio of their careers. Defense will always be a question, but with Simmons, O’Neale (39.3% in catch-and-shoot 3s over the past four seasons) and Warren, Brooklyn has addressed one of its most pressing problems (the size of the ocean).

Unfortunately, pink-tinted glasses are hard to keep for more than a few seconds. The team that was impossible to stop when in good health collapsed after winning only one playoff series. With the following five-round picks from the Nets owed to the Rockets (or eligible to replace them), you can understand the desire to recoup as many of these losses as possible, while trying to stay competitive in the fairly short term. The position that Nets GM Sean Marks was in when he was appointed in 2016 seems somewhat more desirable than this one.

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