It’s August. In some ways it can be the best time of the year, it’s still hot and beautiful outside, for most people school hasn’t started yet and it’s still perfect for going to the beach, going on a road trip, or just taking a vacation in general. For sports fans it’s not that great though. There is no basketball, no hockey, preseason football is lame, and it’s possibly the most boring month of the season for baseball as it’s still too early for pennant races to really get started.
For sports writers, there just isn’t a lot going on so they need to get creative. As a result we see a lot of polls this month and boy have there been some good ones lately.
My favorite poll is SB Nation’s top 100 NBA players of 2017. It’s a fun way to try to predict who is going to be at the top of the league a few years from now. In this year’s poll, SB Nation ranked just two of the current Nets in the top 100 — Brook Lopez at No. 17 and Deron Williams at No. 32.
That sounds about right to me. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are probably too old to still be considered elite in 2017 if they are playing at all. Joe Johnson will still be around, but he’ll be 37 and nobody else would really crack the list at that time anyway. The only borderline candidate is Andray Blatche. He’ll be 31 at that point and if he continues to build of last season’s successful campaign there is still a good chance he can be a top level player.
Another recent poll is Grantland’s best and worst team nickname rankings. This is going to a harsh one for Nets fans as author Zach Lowe ranked Brooklyn’s nickname dead last in the NBA. In a league with the Magic, the Heat, and the Pelicans (who ranked 10th best, by the way) Lowe picked the Nets as the worst nickname in the sport.
Here’s what he wrote:
The franchise with aspirations of unmatched hipness, sporting killer black jerseys and a sleek new arena in the coolest borough of the coolest city, is named for an assemblage of string that hangs lifelessly below the rim. You might as well call them the Basketballs, or the Shoes, or the Wood-Paneled Floors.
Pretty harsh stuff. He might have a point, but in a league with the Pelicans I will never consider the Nets to have the worst nickname.
Then there was ESPN’s forecast of the top five teams likely to experience turmoil this season. It ranked the Nets at No. 3 on the basis that there are extreme expectations after owner Mikhail Prokhorov spent a ton of money on the team. It’s hard to argue that logic because if the team does indeed struggle, or even gets manhandled by the Knicks, there certainly will be turmoil in Brooklyn this season. It isn’t likely, but the potential is there.
Finally there is ESPN’s Uni Watch where they rank the best uniforms in the NBA. Here I expected the Nets to shine. We know that Phil Mushnick of the NY Post doesn’t like them, as he once ranted against them so much he asked the question, “Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N—–s?.” But a man of his advancing age is clearly out of touch (hey, my grandma can be racist too unfortunately) and these Nets jerseys, especially the white ones, are extremely slick. Surely they have to rank pretty high.
Except they don’t. ESPN ranked the Nets jerseys the 13th best in the NBA. It’s better than 30th though and based on the comments maybe it will move up again when they do the rankings next offseason:
It’ll take a little time for this austere design to grow into its own, but the early returns are very promising. Kudos to the team and the league for having the guts to go with such a simple, no-frills approach. It works.
Still, I feel like the Nets have one of the top five jerseys in the game right now. They’re certainly better than the Celtics green which placed first (although admittedly they should get extra point for being so classic).
Those are some of the best of the recent polls. I’m sure there will be more in the upcoming weeks, I’ll probably do some myself, as we wait seemingly 3,000 more days until the season starts.