Commentary

Bigger jump in 2012: Nets or Clippers?

Our Insiders debate which lottery team will increase its win total more next season

Updated: April 23, 2011, 9:03 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Derron Williams/Blake GriffinNBAE/Getty ImagesDeron Williams and Blake Griffin could lead much-improved teams next season.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Which lottery team will see the biggest jump in its win total next season, the New Jersey Nets or Los Angeles Clippers?

BROUSSARD: Every season there's a surprise team in the NBA, one that comes "out of nowhere" to either reach the postseason or challenge for a playoff spot. Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies were among the teams that did it. This season the list included the New Orleans Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers. Who's going to do it next year?

Well, I really like the Los Angeles Clippers to make a jump, but in terms of sheer wins and losses -- as in, "Which team will raise its win total by the greatest margin?" -- I'll go with the New Jersey Nets. I'm not saying the Nets will definitely make the playoffs next year; I'm just saying that they'll increase their win total by more games than any other lottery team.

BUCHER: I'm going to assume we're talking about the Nets as is, and not one with Dwight Howard instead of Brook Lopez, which has a chance of happening. And a full season of Deron Williams -- presumably healthy -- will certainly make them better. But even though the Clippers won eight more games than the Nets and therefore probably have to be a plus-.500 team to top New Jersey's improvement total next season, I'm going with the Clippers. I'm willing to bank that their 11-10 record down the stretch is their starting level for next season, as opposed to this season's 1-13 start.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer