Lionel Hollins On Nets’ Last Place ESPN Future Rankings: “Doesn’t Matter”

Under the leadership of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Brooklyn Nets have always operated as a win now team. This year will be no different, as the Nets look to compete in the Eastern Conference with a core led by Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and a healthy Brook Lopez. This week, new head coach Lionel Hollins spoke about the Nets being ranked dead last in ESPN’s Future Rankings.

Every offseason, ESPN unveils its Future Power Rankings that takes a look at the on-court success expected for each team for the next three seasons. To nobody’s surprise, the Nets were ranked No. 30 — dead last in the Association.

In the present, they’re led by Williams and Johnson, who are locked into long-term max level deals. Johnson has been a very consistent player for the Nets, while Williams has been disappointing the past two seasons. They’re still an above average back court, but the money tied up to the two players prevents the Nets from making any huge moves to reconstruct the roster.

The future ranking of the Nets speaks to the limited ceiling of the team for this season, but is also a commentary on how few assets they have moving forward to rebuild the team. In the deal that saw Brooklyn acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston last offseason, the Nets parted with their 2014, 2016 and 2018 first round picks, along with giving Boston the right to swap first rounders in 2017.

Via SB Nation’s Nets Daily, Hollins was asked about the team’s ranking this week:

“I hear that from players, different teams over the years, ‘Oh, we don’t get any respect.’ I hear it from football teams, I hear it from baseball teams,’’ Hollins said. “It doesn’t matter to me, because, one, no matter what anybody says we have to go out and do it between the lines and, two, just because they say we can’t doesn’t mean we can’t, and just because they say you are doesn’t mean you are. I don’t read it anyway. It doesn’t matter. How would anybody know? It’s just somebody’s guess.’’

Even with the loss of Pierce to the Washington Wizards, the return of a healthy Lopez will be a huge boon for the Nets. Barring major injuries, Brooklyn should compete for a playoff spot.

At best, they’ll be one of the better second-tier teams in the Eastern Conference behind the obvious favorites Cleveland and Chicago. At worst, the Nets could miss the playoffs entirely. Having given up most of their draft picks in the foreseeable future to the Celtics, the Nets are stuck in win now mode, with a roster that’s good enough to keep them competitive, but not great enough to contend for a title. It’s the dreaded middle that every NBA team tries to avoid.

That’s the current predicament for the Nets. So even though Hollins thinks his team might surprise, ESPN putting them dead last in their future rankings isn’t wrong at all.

What do you think?

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