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Are the Nets REALLY that bad?

The New Jersey Nets are 3-38.

Think about that for a minute.  They have fewer wins all season than Memphis had in the last week.

Three wins.

At their current rate, the Nets will finish at 6-76, or three games worse than the 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers.  That Sixers team, led by Fred Carter and featuring the swan song of Hall of Famer Hal Greer, is generally thought of as the worst team of all time.  If the Nets break Philly's record, how will history treat them?

I say it won't be so bad.  I look at the Nets and I see a young team that could be very very good in a few years, especially if they add a John Wall in the draft this year and land someone in that wonderful 2010 class of free agents.  This team could be good next year.

Ok, so they stink now.  They are working on their third losing streak of at least nine games (well, four if you count the season-opening 18-game streak twice).  And they're already 10 1/2 games out.

Of fourth place.

Still, when I look at their roster, I like what I see.  Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Terrence Williams are all in their first three years in the league, with Lopez in particular looking like a star. Devin Harris is not yet 27.

Is a starting lineup of Wall, Lee, CDR, Yi, and Lopez, with Harris and Williams coming off the bench, good enough to make the playoffs in 2011?  Why not?

Of course, the Nets aren't as enamored with Harris as they once were (he was rumored to be heading to Washington for Caron Butler last week), so he might not be part of New Jersey's plans next year.  If the Nets can pick up something for Harris at the upcoming trade deadline - and he's a player with some value - all the better, especially if Wall is coming to town.

The Nets will also be ridding themselves of some big contracts - Bobby Simmons, Tony Battie, and Josh Boone will probably all be gone by next year (if not sooner).  They can get lean and mean in a hurry.

So cheer up Nets fans.  It can't get any worse, and come this time next year, maybe - just maybe - you'll be thinking playoffs.