Hot Take Marathon: Brooklyn Will Finish the Season With the 3rd Seed
ABC7 Eyewitness News
There are innumerable national pundits that are strangely low on the 2019-20 Nets. It’s not as if the Eastern Conference improved markedly, in fact if anything the stranglehold up top strengthened while the rest of the teams underneath would give themselves a decent shot at making some noise for a top-four seed.
Milwaukee and Philadelphia are in a tier of their own at the top of the East. From there, there are up to seven teams who are vying for status as the third best team. You can make a case for any of the following squads:
The strength of the case for Detroit and Miami as a third seed is limited. It’d require immense seasons from their respective stars and a step up in contribution from the lesser likes. You’re not necessarily banking on the talents of Tony Snell, Reggie Jackson and Kelly Olynym to drag you to a third seed. Both teams are well coached but lack the upside and talent that the other aforementioned teams do.
Orlando are well coached, have solid defense and a wild card in Markelle Fultz who could make them take a jump (though that’s a big if). For the Pacers it all comes down to how quickly Oladipo comes back and if he can be at the peak of his powers. They had a solid offseason in their acquisitions but ultimately, they’ll go as far as Oladipo can take them.
The Raptors and Celtics all have legitimate claims for the third seed. Toronto was great when Kawhi Leonard sat last season. Pascal Siakam is only going to get better and will be ably supported by the Finals superstar, Fred Van Vleet. Kyle Lowry is still one of the most solid two-way point guards and Marc Gasol provides quality minutes at the five. The loss of Danny Green hurts their spacing but the return of a healthy OG Anunoby should help somewhat. Their weaknesses lie in an aging roster and a severe lack of perimeter shooting, two things that will hurt their regular season win-loss record.
Boston have a great case for the East’s third best team. They’re young, well coached and have talent across the board. They replaced one All-NBA point guard, for another. However, they weren’t able to offset the bigger loss of Al Horford. Horford was integral to the success of Brad Stevens’ system on both ends of the floor. Replacing a supreme passer and defender like Horford with Enes Kanter is going to leave the Celtics seriously weak at the five spot.
Brooklyn has the best case simply because they have the best player and talent. If Kyrie Irving is healthy for 70+ games then his talents alone will drag the Nets to at the bare minimum, 45 wins. The improvement of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen is worth another few extra wins also.
Despite having a completely revamped roster Brooklyn still have a deep roster for when injuries do occur throughout the 82-game slog. They lack top-end quality at the all-important forward position but there is enough depth there to counter that. The elite talent Brooklyn possesses at the guard spot almost offsets that if managed well by Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff.