Session 1, Brooklyn Nets 2017-18 Campaign:
With the regular season complete the Brooklyn Nets are fully into their offseason and undoubtedly have begun their preparations for the draft.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Playoffs are past the mid way point of the first round. Nets fans may not be involved in the postseason, but a fun exercise is to center on specific players who may be available this coming summer and picture them in Nets jerseys. The playoff forum showcases who is a team player, who excels under the bright lights and in the case of Brooklyn who might best fit the core.
To that end, the team at Brook-Lin is thinking about the tweaks Sean Marks and the brain trust should focus efforts on to retool the 2018-19 squad. With that in mind the scribes provided input on various questions. These roundtable sessions will be featured on Brook-Lin in the coming weeks.
The first segment is offered in two parts with reflection on the performance of the 2017-18 Brooklyn Nets.
What aspect of the Nets game impressed you the most this season?
The Nets’ tenacity and unrelenting attack on the backboards were eye-catching, particularly because bad defensive teams aren’t able to make an impact in the rebounding category. When they were able to stop opponents, they ended the possessions and prevented second-chance points. There were more than a few occasions when Brooklyn came away with a few 50-50 balls that altered the outcome of a game.
The team’s three-point shooting. The Nets might only have managed the 20th-best three point percentage in the league, but given how many triples they take (second behind the unprecedented offensive attack of the Houston Rockets), that’s still pretty solid and a big jump up from their 26th-ranked percentage last year. Given Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell‘s poor shooting numbers down the stretch, 20th is a pretty decent finish from deep.
Coach Kenny Atkinson drew up great gameplans each time out to have the Nets players play smartly. The Nets consistently controlled the three-point arc on both ends by having the 2nd highest three point rate in the league AND allowing the lowest three point rate in the league. Atkinson also deployed smart small-ball wrinkles and, most importantly, trusted his players to make good decisions without micromanaging.
Although there were individual areas of the game the Brooklyn Nets improved the most impressive quality of this squad was their tenacity. Granted, this Nets squad wasn’t tanking or good enough to compete for a playoff berth quite yet. But, the fact they never quit and fought back in so many games is a characteristic which punctuates their identity. Too many young squads get saddled with ‘soft’ identities as opponents expect to take early leads and watch the youngsters fold. That is not who the Nets are and above everything, retaining that competitive edge and stick-to-it-tive-ness is imperative in the future direction of the squad.
Development of the youth movement. Although the team still has a ways to go before real legitimacy in terms of playoff contention, this year the Nets experienced an eight-game jump in wins from 2016-2017 which was largely due to development across the board of their youth. Players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Spencer Dinwiddie have grown from fringe role-players to legitimate starters with the potential to be more.