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Evaluating the Brooklyn Nets at the All-Star Break

We examine the Nets going into the All-Star Break, looking at some futures betting lines, injuries and one player to watch in fantasy basketball.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Trade Deadline and All-Star Weekend have come and gone, so that means we’re in the home stretch of the 2019-20 NBA season. In this serious post-All-Star Break, we’ll go over the outlook for every team in the NBA. Here, we’ll provide a short glimpse at championship odds and playoff chances for each team. Also highlighted are key injuries to note and a fantasy basketball player to watch the rest of the season.

Where do the Brooklyn Nets stand at the All-Star Break?

Record: 25-28
Playoff Chances: 98.1%
Championship Odds: +10000
Division Odds: +30000
Conference Championship Winner: +4000

How does one go about grading a holding pattern? Opinion varied wildly coming into 2019-20 about the immediate future of the Nets, yet one thing we could all agree on was their Championship window remaining vacuum sealed until next season. Could they find their way back into the playoffs by taking advantage of an Eastern Conference pecking order that falls off a cliff after six teams? Of course they could, yet, with Kevin Durant sounding adamant that he would not be taking the court till 2020-21, the ceiling of Brooklyn was always going to be limited.

However, don’t let that fact steer your attention away from what still has the makings of a fun first-round underdog. The Nets may possess a negative net rating for the season as a whole (-0.3), but 41.5% of their field goal attempts are 3-pointers and the roster contains some serious top-flight talent at the guard position between Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. That’s all a pretty clear-cut formula for variance and, if recent wins against Miami, Indiana and Toronto are any indication, they will not be content to roll over when April comes around.

Prediction: They can sleepwalk their way to the seven-seed in the East.

Key Injuries for Brooklyn Nets

Kyrie Irving, PG/SG (knee) — DTD

While it’s more than likely Irving will be ready to go when Brooklyn takes on Philadelphia next Thursday to kick-off the second-half of its season, the cumulative effect of his injury history is hard to overlook. The former All-Star has only been able to start 20 of the Nets’ 53 contests so far in 2019-20 and, for his entire career, Irving’s never managed to play a full 82-game regular season schedule. Trusting that the 27-year-old will simply be healthy when the playoffs arrive is a risky proposition.

Still, despite all the ailments and all the narratives, it’s undeniable that Brooklyn is at it’s best offensively when Irving is on the court. Not only is the guard producing a career-best 30.0 points per 36 minutes, but the Nets’ offensive rating is 9.0 points per 100 possessions better when Irving is active and out on the floor. The next step in the squad’s evolution? Seeing more of what Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert can do when all playing together. It’s a three-man combination that’s only seen the court for 66 minutes, but one that might be able to survive with DeAndre Jordan as a last line of rim defense.

Fantasy Basketball Spotlight: Caris LeVert

That being said, from a fantasy perspective, LeVert owners want nothing to do with Irving. The Michigan product’s usage rate falls from 31.3% with his teammate sidelined to a far more mundane 21.9% with he and Irving sharing a lineup. We see a similar dichotomy in LeVert’s splits as a starter. In the 14 opportunities he’s had to begin a matchup on the court, the 25-year-old is averaging 19.4 points and 4.4 assists with a 44.6% field goal rate. In LeVert’s 14 appearances of the bench, those figures drop to 11.1 points and 2.7 assists with a dismal 34.4% field goal rate. With LeVert on fire prior to the All-Star Break, it may not be a poor time to attempt to sell-high on his promise.

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