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NBA Free Agency Diary: The Nets Got Their Stars, But Will They Be Good?

Keep track of the chaotic NBA offseason with our Free Agency Diary.


Dear NBA Diary, it’s been two days since the Brooklyn Nets hauled in three of the biggest free agents on the market (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan), and I’m still adjusting to the reality of those stars suiting up for the franchise that used to call the swamps of New Jersey home.

But once we all get used to the idea of KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn black-and-white, their team will actually have to take the court (well, sans Durant for likely all of 2019-20). And how good will they be? According to our metrics, Brooklyn’s work has just begun. A preliminary version of our 2019-20 CARMELO depth chart projections thinks the Nets will have the NBA’s 10th-best offense but its sixth-worst defense, which adds up to a 1497 CARMELO rating (or roughly 40.2 wins of talent).

How good are the new-look Nets?

Projected opening-night depth chart for the 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets, based on CARMELO plus/minus ratings

EXPECTED MINUTES PER GAME PLAYER RATING
PLAYER PG SG SF PF C TOTAL OFF. +/- DEF. +/- TOT. +/-
Kyrie Irving 35 0 0 0 0 35 +4.2 -0.9 3.3
Spencer Dinwiddie 4 25 0 0 0 29 +1.6 -1.4 0.2
DeAndre Jordan 0 0 0 6 22 28 -1.0 +2.0 1.0
Jarrett Allen 0 0 0 0 25 25 -0.9 +1.4 0.5
Joe Harris 0 7 18 0 0 25 +0.8 -1.5 -0.6
Taurean Prince 0 0 1 22 0 23 -0.4 -0.9 -1.3
Caris LeVert 0 0 21 0 0 21 +0.0 -0.9 -0.9
Garrett Temple 0 13 6 0 0 19 -2.1 +0.0 -2.1
Rodions Kurucs 0 1 2 11 0 14 -1.2 -0.2 -1.4
Jaylen Hands 9 0 0 0 0 9 -1.8 -1.6 -3.4
Dzanan Musa 0 2 0 5 0 7 -1.3 -0.5 -1.8
Alan Williams 0 0 0 4 0 4 -2.3 +1.2 -1.0
Nicolas Claxton 0 0 0 0 1 1 -3.0 +0.8 -2.2
Team total 240 +1.2 -1.5 -0.2
Expected wins: 40.2
CARMELO team rating: 1497

That’s … probably not the projection you might expect after the free-agent coups the Nets pulled off over the weekend. But truth be told, our model never liked Brooklyn much last season, either: Even as the Nets were making the playoffs (as the No. 6 seed!), we never once rated them as a league-average team. If Coach of the Year candidate Kenny Atkinson had them overachieving with less talent than they will have next season, then maybe he can squeeze more wins — and better defense — out of this roster than our numbers would predict.

Plus, it’s important to remember that this is the version of the Nets without Durant. The version with him won’t take the court until the following season, most likely. If KD were to be on the Nets’ opening-day roster, though, our algorithm would give Brooklyn the NBA’s second-best offense and an improved (but still below-average) defense. That team would have a CARMELO rating of 1583 (49.1 wins of talent), which probably still sounds low given the Nets’ newfound star power.

One note: Some of you noticed that my depth chart for the Sixers on Monday contained a player (Jonathon Simmons) who was, um, no longer on the Sixers. Sorry about that! As we rebuild our team depth charts over the summer, we’re trying to cobble things together across multiple sources of contracts and rosters, but it’s still a work in progress. Please let us know if you see a player who should be on a different team.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

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