In the first quarter of last year’s regular-season, the Brooklyn Nets looked like they were doomed for another appearance in the lottery after getting out to a painful 8-18 start. However, from December onwards they played like a Top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs.
This summer saw a fair share of losses from the roster that shocked the NBA world a season ago and exceeded expectations; D’Angelo Russell is a Warrior, DeMarre Carroll is a Spur, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a Raptor, Ed Davis is on the Jazz, Allen Crabbe is a Hawk, Jared Dudley is a Laker, and lastly, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham are now members of the T-Wolves.
These were all key components within the Nets rotation last season, Russell emerged a dominant All-Star and the team had the second-highest scoring output from their bench in the NBA in 2018/19. But the work Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson and the front office put in definitely softens the blow of such a shuffle.
See, the Brooklyn story needed to be rewritten. It needed to be bold. Strong. Powerful.
It needed to have a slicing edge to it. If teams were going up against the Nets, sure, they might win, but they are going to have bite marks all up and down their arms.
It needed to represent the Burrough to its core.
From team that committed one of the worst trades in recent memory (please see Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for further information), stuck in asset limbo to then becoming a legitimate contender within the span of three years, Marks and Atkinson have redefined what the Brooklyn Nets represent. The Nets are now a modern, dynamic team, a team with huge growth capabilities that doesn’t compromise on wisdom and some damn fine 3-point shooters.
Kyrie Irving, an All-NBA point guard, and former NBA champion joins the roster; and he’s accompanied by the likes of Kevin Durant, who needs no introduction and DeAndre Jordan. If versatility was a concern, Marks did a great job in upskilling the roster, ensuring that this team wasn’t going to be front-heavy.
Known veterans Wilson Chandler and Garrett Temple sign on, a potential under-the-radar candidate in David Nwaba was acquired, and my personal favourite Taurean Prince will almost definitely be seeing starter minutes. The tall forward of Henry Ellenson was signed on a two-way deal and the team drafted Nicolas Claxton with the 31st overall pick.
Despite the rollercoaster of trades and moves, there will be a few familiar faces come opening night of the 2019/20 season.
Caris LeVert was having a big breakout year before the ankle injury but did find his rhythm in that huge back end of the regular season and in the playoffs, and if everything goes well he should be continuing that campaign going into next season.
With his game progressing every season, Spencer Dinwiddie will be 26-years-old and entering season six of his NBA career, and there is no reason the 4th place finisher for Sixth Man of the Year shouldn’t come out with just a recognisable effort.
An excellent roller in pick and roll sets, Jarrett Allen has shown tremendous upside as a defensive-anchor in the middle of the court. He’s still growing into his NBA body and does need to work at finishing around the rim, but it seems he’s on track to be amongst the best big men in the league in the near future, especially in a team set to do so well in the next 2 years.
Then there’s elite three-point marksman, Joe Harris, who’s widely known for that attribute but it doesn’t summarize his entire game, doesn’t even come close. He is great at reading the defense and knows when to put the ball on the floor or find a teammate when the opposition is really riding his back.
But he’s also surprisingly physical, has no issues taking a smaller guard off the dribble and into the low block where he can overpower him using his 6’6, massive frame for the easy two. He’s a smart ballplayer and is improving his offensive dynamic with every passing season.
So despite all the mix-and-match for the Nets in the offseason, there is still some clear continuity in the Nets roster moving forward. Last year they finished 34-22, over the last 56 games, after their rocky start. Had the Nets played at that pace throughout the entire season they would’ve finished with a 50-win campaign, something the franchise has rarely seen.
Of all the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, the Nets had the worst home record, sitting at 23-18. The Nets also had the worst attendance in the NBA, filling up 84.3 percent of their capacity for an average of 14941 spectators at the Barclays Center in their home games.
Brooklyn is a team that should 100% place in the top-5 in the Eastern Conference and could even win a playoff series. This upcoming season we can expect to see some huge growth from the Nets’ second string players. Then in the 2020-21 season with Kevin Durant fully healthy, winning a championship for the first time in franchise history is within their grasp.
This will be the team to watch in the East, alongside Atlanta, and if everything goes smoothly for them, they should be coming out of the pre-season with all guns firing, and pushing to make a big statement from day one.
Predicted Wins: 52. The Nets now have the skill and accuracy to become a lethal weapon on the East Coast, and if Kyrie can withstand injury second half of the year, they’re going to put on a hell of a show.
Best Player: Kyrie Irving. He is one of the best finishers in the league, and with the structure and support he has around him, Kyrie will be a force to be reckoned with, the player we were all waiting for to break out in Boston.
Golden Nugget: Although most eyes will be stuck on the big brands of KD and Kyrie, I see Joe Harris going through the greatest improvements of his career thanks to the help of his two new teammates and a coach who is renowned for his player development.
Joe Harris is widely recognized in the league as an elite three-point marksman. Although that may be true, it doesn’t fully encompass his offensive arsenal.
Since signing with the Nets back in July of 2016, Joe Harris has improved his offensive numbers with every season he plays. Last year he started every game he played in, and with the increase in minutes, he elevated his game, netting career highs in nearly every measured stat.
His playstyle down the paint and even behind the backboard has given us some of the best highlights of last year, going up against the Claw and the King respectively.
This shows us a player who has the drive, the energy and the athleticism to sell quite a few #12 Jerseys.
Coach: Kenny Atkinson. He is going into his 4th year as Brooklyn’s head coach, and if the “Point-Guard Whisperer” is anything to go by, he will be bringing out an elite team come regular season. Atkinson is also renowned for his player-development capabilities, and seeing he has a team of young stars with a heavy-set toolbox of skills ready to be upgraded, we can be sure he will be putting in some hours to make sure they are all ready to go.