Nets

What is Brooklyn’s Ceiling This Season?

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The New York takeover has been a slow process for the Nets since moving to Brooklyn.  Likely it will never fully take as the Knicks are considered a historic franchise and their fans are relentless. Just moving into the market was not enough to challenge their popularity. Stealing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant out from under them started this push. The schedule release further cemented that at least for this season, Brooklyn will be showcased as New York’s team.

Reviewing the Schedule

The Nets have been taking more mainstream television slots than the Knicks of late as the Knicks are one of the worst watches in the league. This season the Nets will be featured on national television (ESPN and TNT) in 12 games. In a year where the Knicks have been removed from the Christmas Day slate of games, the Nets have a chance to absorb the market void without playing on the holiday themselves.

The Knicks will only be nationally televised three times this season, leaving them as an afterthought for anyone who is not a diehard fan. The Nets, on the other hand, will be a daily topic of discussion. They will be jockeying for playoff positioning in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.  All eyes will be on Kyrie Irving to see if his chemistry issues are behind him. Kevin Durant will always be in the background, likely missing the whole season but still creating a floating “what-if” over the team.

The early season schedule favors Brooklyn bringing a bunch of new faces together.  They will be at home for four of the first five games and five of the first seven overall.  Furthermore, they will be able to benefit from early-season health to tackle their longest road trip of the season in November. Some schedule padding will come in January when they are at home or taking short road trips for most of the month.  This gives them plenty of information to make educated decision heading into the trade deadline before a brutal March that sees them play 16 games in 28 days.

Reviewing Brooklyn’s Place Among the League’s Elite

For the first time in league history, sports gambling will be legal in the former home state of the Brooklyn Nets. Sportsbooks are already taking note of Brooklyn’s potential when compared to the other possible contenders. This is not a fair place to compare them to the Knicks, who will likely be tanking again this year to build around a future with RJ Barrett. The top NBA betting sites give the Nets the 9th best odds to win the title in their first season together. The fact that they are mentioned in the same range as the Celtics and the Nuggets is promising looking forward.  Being ahead of a team like the Blazers could be that mini New York bump that they will be starting to benefit from.

In terms of overall wins, the Westgate Sportsbook set the Nets over/under at 44.5 wins.  This would be an improvement of 2-3 wins on last season, which is modest compared to the additions the team has made.  Even if Durant does not return this season, Irving is a talent upgrade over Russell. DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple and Wilson Chandler look to add some veteran depth. Prince especially has yet to realize his potential and should benefit from a coach Kenny Atkinson. Another year of development and hopefully health for Caris LeVert should lead to an All-Star berth.

What’s the Play?

The Sportsbook projects Brooklyn to finish behind the Bucks, Sixers, Pacers, Celtics and Raptors and just barely ahead of the Heat.  While there will be growing pains, the over here seems like the smart play for someone looking to make a bet.  If Irving’s issues have been left behind in Boston, it would not be hard to see the Nets challenging for home court advantage in the East.  Boston is a complete unknown with the losses of Horford and Baynes anchoring their defense.  The Pacers will be without Oladipo for at least the beginning of the season while he recovers from injury.  Toronto is coming off the championship, but losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green drastically changes their identity. Lowry’s off-season health struggles do not help matters.  The Heat hype feels drastically misplaced.

If the Nets can make it to the second round and push the Bucks or the Sixers without Durant returning this year the takeover of the city could really begin. Going into the following year with Durant and momentum could make it a reality.  And the Knicks thought it was all a dream.

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