Approximately half of the 2019-20 NBA season is in the rear view mirror and it is a natural time to take stock of what has transpired to this point. While the (vast) majority of content in this space is dedicated to the Atlanta Hawks, the franchise has an investment in the plight of the Brooklyn Nets this season and, after Wednesday’s game, Kenny Atkinson’s bunch has participated in 40 of their 82 games.
Throughout the campaign, we’ll check in on Brooklyn’s projection through the prism of the NBA Draft, knowing that the Hawks will receive a 2020 first-round pick from the Nets if the team makes the postseason. If Brooklyn falls short of the playoffs, the Hawks will have to wait until (at least) 2021 to complete the trade involving Taurean Prince and Allen Crabbe.
With that as the setup, here are some updated projections for the Nets, ranging from the thoughts of humans (in power rankings form) and statistical models.
- Current record: 18-22, 8th in East
- ESPN Power Rankings (from 1/13) — 17th overall, 8th in East
- The Athletic Power Rankings (from 1/13) — 18th overall, 8th in East
- NBA.com Power Rankings (from 1/13) — 17th overall, 8th in East
- FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR projection — 36 projected wins, 8th in East
- FiveThirtyEight’s ELO forecast — 36 projected wins, 8th in East
- TeamRankings projection — 36 projected wins, 8th in East
- NumberFire projection — 38 projected wins, 8th in East
- ESPN’s Basketball Power Index — 37 projected wins, 8th in East
As you can see, there is something of a consensus on where Brooklyn is expected to land at the end of the 82-game journey. Part of that is the chasm between the top eight and everyone else, with the No. 9 seed — currently a tie between the Bulls and Pistons — sitting four games out of the playoffs and without the present-day talent to inspire confidence in a big-time run. For the Hawks, though, the reasoning behind Brooklyn’s placement is less important than the safety of the projection.
In short, there would be real value to the Nets landing in the No. 7 or No. 8 position in the East, plainly because Brooklyn would then send a mid-first round pick to Atlanta. There is a ceiling on a lottery-protected pick — i.e. the one involved in this trade — and, even with the caveat that the 2020 draft is not strong, the Hawks couldn’t reasonably expect a better outcome than the Nets being projected to flip approximately the No. 16 pick to the Hawks in 2020.
There are reasonable opinions on all sides when it comes to what Travis Schlenk and his staff might look to do with the selection, should it arrive from Brooklyn. However, the best-case scenario from an asset standpoint was always going to be the Nets landing in the exact range they are currently projected to settle in to by April.