The only sure thing we know about the Brooklyn Nets is they’re a 21-win team in the midst of a major rebuild.
If you want to root for this team in 2016, having patience is about as close to mandatory as it gets.
Yes, it’s only preseason, but the Nets are a serious work in progress, from top to bottom. Their 100-97 loss to the Boston Celtics, Thursday night at Barclays Center, painted a picture of what’s likely to be their reality for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
If you’ve heard how this game went already, I’ll spare you the details. The bottom line is the Nets had a 97-94 lead with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter, the Celtics scored the final six points to hand Brooklyn their third straight preseason defeat.
“We could have managed it a little better,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said afterwards. “I think communication and getting on the same page on what we’re going to do. It’s going to be a great thing for is to look at film and what we’re going to do in certain situations. So you know, getting on the same page, getting on the same page, coaches and players.”
Nets fans should screenshot this quote and refer back to it during the season.
Defense has been a problem for the Nets throughout the preseason. The effort against the Celtics, overall, was better, however still inconsistent.
Newcomer Trevor Booker has been a bright spot with his all-in style of play. Booker’s got a motor on defense that’s fun to watch and will help pump life into the home crowd during the season. He could be an under-the-radar off-season pickup that turns heads.
The offense, much like the defense, still has a ways to go. Atkinson is hell-bent on installing his motion offense while his players continue to launch three-pointers like there’s no tomorrow.
The ‘shoot when open’ mentality isn’t a sign of desperation for this team, it’s playing to their strengths.
Opposing teams are going to come into Brooklyn already well-aware of how bad the Nets were last season, they also know Lin and Lopez are expected to be the bread and butter on an offense with limited weapons.
The Nets have a roster full of players that can shoot the basketball, even Brook Lopez is getting in on the act from long-range. If Atkinson’s motion offense achieves the goals of getting everyone touches and more open looks, it’ll open up the pick and roll for Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez at key points in the game.
One look at the Nets roster and, outside of Lin and Lopez, it’s a who’s who of unfamiliar names. That will change as the season goes on and roles are more clearly defined. Until then, it’s all about the process.
“I think the process will definitely continue over the regular season,” said Lopez. We have so many new guys, new faces that we are getting to know each other and know the system.”
Lopez most likely will be the go-to player for getting the pulse of the team this season. He’s the one holdover from Brooklyn’s failed run at a championship which depleted the team of draft picks and triggered this massive rebuild. His willingness to adapt to yet another new offense is essential for Atkinson in his first year as a head coach.
“We are learning on the fly,” Lopez continued. “But we have lots of intelligent, smart, and selfless guys here, so we are picking it up quick and we’re enjoying playing with each other.”
The Nets are a team in transition, it’s going to be painful to watch at times. The flipside to this coin is that if all the pieces come together as Atkinson and Lopez hope, the wait will be well worth it.
In the meanwhile, just remember that patience is a virtue.