Brooklyn Nets

The Nets’ breakout player will be…

Caris LeVert. While most Nets fans have seen him “break out” already, I think this is the year he’ll become a household name. Kyrie Irving and, someday, soon-ish or later-ish, Kevin Durant will lead this team, but it doesn’t work without the third player; and that third player will be LeVert. When healthy last season he was putting up All-Star-like numbers for the Nets. Of course injuries have been much of the concern for LeVert’s potential, but if he can remain healthy, I fully expect him to steal much of the noise in Brooklyn. He can easily be among the Top 50 players in the league and provide the Nets with that much needed bridge, keeping them afloat and ready to make a run once KD gets back onto the court.

It all goes wrong if…

Brooklyn’s eyes get too big for their stomach - or whatever that ol’ saying is. The Nets have already taken their shot by landing Kyrie and Durant, and made some really strong complementary moves - getting Taurean Prince, for example - and some reactionary moves - see: Jordan, DeAndre. Of course the DeAndre Jordan move made sense as a way to appeal to Kyrie and Durant, but what’s made the Nets work to this point was ultimately that Sean Marks didn’t cut corners and try to force the action too soon. What’s made them work was devising a plan and putting that plan into action; not just throwing money at the problem. Moving beyond guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen for an expensive used bandaid isn’t what’s going to make this team a true contender. The Nets fail if they look for quick fixes - if they get too hungry too soon, and stray from the plan they’ve put in place.

What we’ll be saying about the Nets at the end of the season…

“The Nets are [gonna be/are in] trouble…” Or something to that effect. I think the Nets are in an interesting position where most people say they aren’t ready this year, but they expect them to make some noise, but they don’t know how KD will heal or when he’ll heal, but they have them as title contenders next year… It’s a tough spot. If Durant does play this year, and come back sooner (and better) than expected, suddenly the perception shifts and we’ll start to hear noise about them being title contenders now. But if he doesn’t come back, we have to go through next summer wondering what kind of KD the Nets will have in 2020/21. They’re either going to be in trouble or they’re going to be trouble. And it’s all going to depend on when, how and why - no, not “why” - Durant heals.

Final prediction

Vegas has the Nets at 44.5 games this year, again with the big question mark around whether or not Durant will play. The Nets had 42 wins last season, overachieving for sure, on the back of D’Angelo Russell - who is replaced this season by Kyrie Irving. I can see the Nets winning 47 games this year, fully expecting we’ll see Durant at some point, but also taking into account that they generally speaking have a better team this year than they did last season.

Final prediction: 47-35

Tom Lorenzo (@TomLorenzo)