You can call it a youth movement and maybe the Brooklyn Nets are going through a new phase in Kings County.
The Nets are filled with younger players, who are looking to break in and then there is the old man on the team, Brook Lopez.
“Many of these guys took the ACT and SAT like a year ago and that did it for me,” Lopez said with a smile at Nets media day. “I don’t even remember my scores. It put a damper on my day a little bit.”
Well the veteran center went to Stanford, so those scores had to be pretty good. That said, the only scores he cares about these days are the ones on attached to the games his team plays.
With new coach Kenny Atkinson in place, Lopez and the rest of his Nets will be filled with young energy and a season to build upon. Joined for former Knick point guard Jeremy Lin, the two veterans will be looking to shepherd the young Nets and possibly surprise a few people.
“I feel much stronger in my leadership role than in my last two to three teams,” Lin said. “I feel like for me here, a lot of it is going to fall on Brook and me setting the tone in workouts how we work and even how we live off the court and how we take care of our bodies. There’s definitely more of a leadership position that I will be thrust into.”
Having Lin, who went to Harvard, and the Harvard of the West Coast educated Lopez leading the way is a very smart move by general manager Sean Marks. When the Nets moved to Brooklyn, they decided to take a win-now mentality, leaving the club without first round draft choices for a number of seasons.
So by having that bill come due now, Marks kept Lopez, a fan favorite, who likes playing here, and signed Lin, a good NBA point guard, who will appeal to Chinese market and maybe sell a few tickets.
Understand, Lin is not the same player that took New York by storm back in 2011 with “Linsanity.” He is a more mature player, who has earned his time NBA, proving he’s not just a flash in the pan.
“For me, in no way I am trying to recreate anything,” Lin said. “I am always looking forward to pushing forward and look to what’s next and that’s how I think. I understood my wide range of experiences from past teams and this is a place I can really be myself on the court and I can go from there.”
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Lopez said. “The high IQ player and a great floor general and he’s perfectly poised to run a team.”
Even with some young exciting players, like former Seton Hall standout Isiah Whitehead on the roster, this is definitely the Brook and Jeremy show, with the two veterans leading the way. How they both mesh will dictate the Nets season. And even that may not be enough.
“We have a pretty positive outlook honestly,” Lopez said. “Outside of our locker room, I know things aren’t so high. I have been getting a lot of work in and we are getting to know each other. We have a basis. We are not coming in without any knowledge of each other and previous continuity.”
With Lin and Lopez, the Nets have their leaders. In the NBA, though, two players don’t make a team and it will take some work to get the rest of the young Brooklyn players up to speed.
“We just want those players to stay hungry,” Lopez said. “Find ways to funnel that hunger and intensity into our system and the proper way for us to play together and into our system.”