Coming into this season, the expectation for the Brooklyn Nets is that the team is in a rebuilding stage. If the preseason is any indication, this season could be a struggle. They finished the preseason with a 1-5 record and there was a learning curve on both ends of the floor with a new head coach and a new system. The motion offense has received the most attention and while team ball is a positive, many fans have been disappointed that there were not many pick-and-roll plays between Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. It makes sense to involve the two best offensive players as often as possible, but as of now, head coach Kenny Atkinson seems to be saving the pick-and-roll for once the regular season starts. He has many new players on the roster and has a difficult job of trying to find the right combination to give the Nets the best chance to win.
One of the goals in the preseason was to experiment with different lineups and as a result, we only saw the starting lineup for a minimal amount of time. When the starters played, the Nets were competitive, but it was just the opposite when the bench players came into the game. The one constant throughout the preseason was the play of Jeremy Lin (17.2 points on 61.9 percent shooting and 50 percent from three along with 5.6 assists in 23.3 minutes), and he looked like an All-Star point guard in the making. Regardless of the amount of pick-and-rolls, he should have a high usage rate, and that should only mean that his stats will skyrocket along with increased minutes. I predict that he will play around 32 minutes in the regular season. It is no surprise that the national media is starting to pay more attention to what he is doing.
Lin will be driven to achieve individual success and become the best player he could be, but he needs help around him for the Nets to possibly be a surprise team. Among the new guys on the roster, the two players who impressed the most were Joe Harris and Justin Hamilton. They could both stretch the floor with their three-point shooting, and they fit with the motion offense because they will get their spot up along with catch and shoot opportunities. There were not many expectations for either player, but they should both be in the rotation. Harris shot a ridiculous 62.5 percent and Hamilton shot 36.8 percent from three in the preseason. We have to see how they do in the regular season, but I have to give GM Sean Marks credit for signing Hamilton from Europe and Harris who rarely played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Atkinson has addressed the importance of team ball from the very beginning when he was hired by the Nets, and Lin agreed that they are working on a variety of plays to fit the different players on the team. To effectively run the motion offense, it requires smart players, shooters, good ball handling, and versatility, which is the model for both the Spurs and the Hawks that the Nets want to follow. However, the mark of a good coach is to adapt to the personnel on the roster, and Atkinson previously said, “I’m definitely not a systems guy. I think I’m intelligent enough to understand your players, your players’ strengths. I think coaches make mistakes being too attached to their system. Again, when you talk about experience, I’ve been in the European system. I’ve seen Rick Adelman‘s system, I’ve seen Mike D’antoni’s system. I’ve see Mike Budenholzer’s system. I think, man, can I take pieces of all these.”