Three weeks into 2017 the Brooklyn Nets find themselves right about where many predicted, owners of the NBA’s worst record at 9-34.
Less than 24 hours after snapping a painful 11-game losing streak, with a surprising 143-point outburst in New Orleans, the Nets were once again reminded of their current reality.
A slow start in the opening quarter, combined with poor execution in the final quarter, proved to be the key ingredients to a dish served cold in the form of a 112-105 road loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back isn’t a picnic for NBA teams, especially for a team still learning to put a consistent win streak together. It did, after all, take the Nets almost three weeks into the new year to finally get back in the win column. They still have yet to win back-to-back games this season.
It may not seem like it, however, but the Nets are showing signs of growth. Now before you ask if I need my head checked, allow me to continue.
Losing hurts. On or off the court, losing consistently can derail any human being’s self-confidence, along with their belief in the overall team concept. When you add this to the mix for young men fresh out of college, still learning to find their way in life, it makes for an even heavier challenge.
The Nets have a handful of young players with potential to become key pieces to their foundation. Rookies Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead, along with second-year player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, have had to learn on the go for a team short on talent and options.
These three players all have potential and are showing they can play with the big boys. They play fast, hustle on defense, and give the Nets another gear to shift into. It shouldn’t go unnoticed they also appear to enjoy playing together. Developing team chemistry is crucial during this stage of the Nets’ rebuilding phase and it appears they’re moving in the right direction.
In their last two games, the Nets have outscored their opponent in the third quarter with a 35-point and 43-point showing respectively. Putting an end to the third quarter blues, which has plagued this team all season, should be looked at as a huge step forward.
Jeremy Lin’s injured hamstring has limited the point guard to only 12 games played so far this season. Lin’s presence was expected to be a key component to first-year head coach Kenny Atkinson’s fast-paced offense, but while he’s been out the Nets have used this time to continue their evaluation of players which may or may not prove to be fits in their long-term plans.
With or without Lin, it appears players are buying into Atkinson’s fun-time offense, specifically big man Brook Lopez and his newfound Love Jones for the three-point shot.
Brooklyn has a long way to go before they can shake free of their losing ways on the court. In the meanwhile, fans can take solace in the fact this team has a plan in place with the right staff at the helm to see it through.