The Brooklyn Nets are going through some hard times. The team was filled with optimism when they made their move to Brooklyn. Under new ownership, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokohorov, the team had set forth a mission to become a championship contender in a limited window. The process had started previous to the move when the Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first round picks to the Utah Jazz for point guard Deron Williams. At the time, there was certainly an argument to be made that Williams was worth the price as he was nearly averaging 20 points and 10 assists and was coming off back to back all star seasons.
Curiously though, as William started coming up short on expectations, the Nets doubled down on the picks for aging borderline stars strategy. First they sent a first rounder, a slew of role players and the rights to swap first round picks in 2015 and 2017 to the Hawks for the incredibly expensive Joe Johnson (the Hawks ended up with the 15th pick this past draft and the Nets got saddled with the 29th).They shipped a first round pick to the Trail Blazers for Gerald Wallace (the Blazers used that pick to select Damian Lillard) and finished off their strategy with the grand daddy of them all, three unprotected first round picks to the Boston Celtics for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
What has it got them? A 12-34 record, no control over their own first round pick until 2019 and Garnett, Williams, Pierce and Wallace all on other rosters. Yikes! It has however earned them a slot as the specialty pick this week in Stump the Stiffs and for that I'm sure Prokhorov is eternally grateful!
As for our combatants, Stiffs Writers this week are represented by the wizard of the written word, Gordon Gross. The Stiffs commenters are represented by one of the fans engaged in a long distance relationship with the team, afanfromafar. Finally, the evil Nuggs subreddit empire is represented by their resident statistics wonk /u/Tron7. Pick time!
|Stump the Stiffs Week 12||Stiffs Staff
|Hornets at Blazers||Blazers||Blazers||Blazers|
|Suns at Knicks||Knicks||Knicks||Knicks|
|Rockets at Thunder||Thunder||Thunder||Thunder|
|Cavaliers at Pistons||Cavaliers||Pistons||Cavaliers|
Pick against the spread:
Mavericks -12 at Nets
Gordon Gross: I'm taking the Trail Blazers at home against the Hornets because a) the former Rose Garden is a great home court and the Blazers have a winning record there this year and b) the Hornets have only 6 road victories this year. It's tough for Eastern Conference teams to head up to the Pacific Northwest to boot. I won't pick the Suns to win so much as a croquet match at a garden party until they show me some spine, and they've lost 8 of 10, so it's Knicks all the way. The Rockets fold against good teams and the Thunder are a good team. In the Thunderdome? Gimme OKC. And Detroit is good at home but the Cavs are the sort of team they cough it up to, so I'll go with LeBron on this one. The Nets have lost by double digits in 7 of their last 8 defeats, so I'll take the points with Dallas as well. You couldn't pay me to watch the game though.
afanfromafar: The Blazers aren’t a team I feel safe picking in most match ups, but they’re at home and playing better of late, even doing us a solid by creeping into that final playoff spot. More importantly, here come the Hornets, losers of 9 of their last 10 outside the friendly confines of the Eastern time zone. Why the Knicks? Because the other team is the Suns. Sure, the Knicks have to travel from Toronto and play on a back-to-back, and as I write this, Kristaps Porzingis has been scratched from the Toronto game with an illness. Did I mention the other team is the Suns? Beyond their abysmal overall record, they’ve suffered double-digit losses in 4 of their last 6 games, including beat downs by 22, 28, and 30 points. I wouldn’t pick the Suns if they played the Washington Generals. Oh wait, they did, only the Association calls them the Philadelphia 76ers...and the Suns lost to them too, twice!
With so many of their recent games being tightly contested, OKC seems ripe for an upset, but this won’t be it. Oh, and whatever the "over" is, take it. More of a gut feeling than anything, but I see the Cavs looking past Detroit somewhat, as they head into a Saturday showdown with the Spurs. Look for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson to have monster games, just as they did the last time the two teams met in Detroit. No in-depth analysis needed for the Mavericks/Nets. 12 points is a lot in the NBA and Zaza Pachulia is questionable for the game. Give me the points.
/u/Tron7: I struggle to find much of anything positive or negative to say about the Blazers or the Hornets who are two perfectly average squads. I'll take the Blazers at home. The Knicks are on a back to back but it won't matter against this Suns squad that, with only two wins over it's last 18 games, is well on it's way to Tanktown. The Rockets are improved since an awful start to the year but they still struggle with consistency and can't hold it together long enough to beat this Thunder team at home. The Cavaliers are switching horses mid-stream but are the Pistons good enough to take advantage of the transition? I'll take the Cavaliers but I'm not happy about it. Dallas has won a total of five games this year by twelve points or more, I'll take the Nets and the points.
And there you have it! Only a little wiggle room to gain in the standings this week. As always, if you are interested in being a part of the action get in touch with Russ Hamilton (@rscotham) on the Stiffs commenter side or Alec Gwin (u/IdRatherBeLurking) on the Nuggets Subreddit side. Also, a certain devilishly handsome writer may have had a brain fart an asked for picks on the Academy Awards last week not realizing that the awards show is on February 28th, not January 28th. Ironically, I don't believe anyone involved with or reading the column mentioned that, goes to show how much we all as a collective group put into the Oscars. Luckily everyone picked The Revenant to win best picture so for now I'll give everyone a win and adjust it to a loss if some other movie takes the title.
If you're keeping score:
Stiffs Staff: 29-36
Stiffs Commenters: 34-31
Nuggets Subreddit: 36-29
Suddenly that /r/DenverNuggets lead is quite precarious!