ESPN.com's NBA Summer Forecast may have listed the Nets as the No. 2 team in the "Team Turnaround" predictions, right after the Miami Heat, but ESPN.com's NBA Offseason Buzz tells a different -- and more of the real -- story. Chris Broussard and John Hollinger ranked the top 30 teams coming into the season, and put the Nets at No. 25. The main reason? Not getting a big-name free agent. The biggest positive? Adding quality in Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow. The greatest upside? Rookie Derrick Favors. And he's already taking his role in stride. He knows he'll "provide a spark off the bench," while he continues to develop his post-up moves, which he's been doing since the summer working with Nets assistants Sam Mitchell and Popeye Jones.
Overall, the Nets being one of the worst now may not be so bad in the long run -- depending on how you look at it. NBADraft.net projects the Nets to have the first pick in the 2011 draft. And who's the lucky guy? Soon-to-be North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes, who's compared to a cross between (a young) Grant Hill and Luol Deng. Barnes was ESPNU's No. 1 high school recruit in the class of 2010, after averaging 26.1 points, 10 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 3.0 assists. Of course, the Nets hope their "real pick" comes in free agency.
Jared Zwerling is a senior researcher for ESPN The Magazine and a regular contributor to ESPN RISE. You can follow him on Twitter: @jaredzwerling