NBA futures’ finding: Now is the time to invest in Brooklyn Nets

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, left, and forward Kevin Durant (7) celebrate the team’s win over the Atlanta Hawks in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Atlanta.

Thu, Feb 18, 2021 (2 a.m.)

Down two of their three superstars, the Brooklyn Nets overcame a 24-point deficit Tuesday night in Phoenix to beat the Suns for their fourth straight victory.

The current hot streak, which now includes three consecutive road wins, might be a sign that the Nets are putting it all together after trading for James Harden and sacrificing much of their depth last month. It’s at least going to be perceived that way if the Nets continue to play at a high level tonight against the Lakers and Sunday versus the Clippers to finish off a West Coast road trip.

Brooklyn is set up to do so considering it has a chance to be at full strength while both Los Angeles teams are missing their second-best players — Anthony Davis and Paul George, respectively.

That means time is running out to get the Nets at a discount price to win the NBA championship. Yes, somehow, contrary to all logic, Brooklyn is still available at a discount price to win the NBA championship.

The Nets sit at +505 (risking $1 to win $5.05) at Circa Sports and not any lower than +400 at most other shops. The surge of action that has traditionally come in on teams that assembled a “Big Three” like the Miami Heat in the early 2010s and the Golden State Warriors more recently hasn’t yet arrived on the Nets.

Brooklyn’s odds shot down to as low as +250 when it acquired Harden to slot next to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but climbed back up as it started 7-6 straight-up and 4-9 against the spread with the new-look team. Circa got as high as +605 last week, which was absurd.

In fact, +505 is still absurd. Brooklyn might be around +200 going into the playoffs. The Nets might even be trending in that direction by the All-Star break in two weeks considering their schedule.

After the pair of contests at Staples Center, they don’t play a single team with a positive net rating and only one with a winning record — the San Antonio Spurs — in their final five games before the pause.

It’s just another reason why the time to invest in the Nets is now.

Brooklyn’s upside is every bit in line with its aforementioned Miami and Golden State forebearers. Just look at what the Nets have done offensively since Harden came over.

They’ve been historically efficient. Yes, they’ve also been historically inefficient on defense.

But great offense is more of prerequisite to a title than great defense, and the latter is exceedingly easier to boost. Heck, the Nets are already doing it and sit 20th in the league in defensive rating during their winning streak — a vast improvement to the dead-last slot in their first 13 games with Harden.

Help could also be on the way with the Nets sure to be a suitor on the buyout market where released veterans will be looking to link up with a contender.   

Brooklyn may not have lived up to its potential yet, but that doesn’t mean its not going to for the rest of the year. This is the NBA regular season after all.

When a team like the Lakers is less dominant than expected in the middle of the season, it’s chalked up to it being a long year and saving an extra gear for the playoffs. It’s the same way with the Nets.

Coach Steve Nash is trotting out different lineups every night and clearly tinkering with all the personnel at his disposal. The rotation will be pared down for the playoffs; the Nets’ best players will be getting the bulk of the minutes.

And few teams’ best players can match up with the Nets’ best players — especially in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia currently has the conference’s best record at 18-10 but its underlying numbers, including a +2.9 per-game point differential as of Wednesday, indicate regression is on the way.

Milwaukee is the primary Eastern competition for Brooklyn considering its average point differential of +7.5 and the game-by-game betting market currently pricing it as the second-best team in the league behind Utah. The Nets and Bucks seem destined for a playoff encounter, but it’s wise to establish a betting position on the former now.

It would be easy to play off of and, in all likelihood, middle a Brooklyn future in a seven-game series against Milwaukee by taking the Bucks +0.5 or +1 games. That won’t be necessary here since Milwaukee at +745 is the only other future I’ve given out in Talking Points.

That makes Brooklyn +505 fit nicely in the futures portfolio. The Nets should fit nicely in any futures portfolio at the moment, however, because their prices are about to come down significantly.  

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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