The Nets are one win away from an undefeated preseason.
A 3-0 exhibition record goes doesn’t hold much in water, the games don’t count in the standings. For the Nets, however, their progress currently is measured in different variables.
Brooklyn is coming off an NBA-worst 20-62 record, so the expectations remain low.
As bad as it was at times last season, and there were some bad stretches, the Nets are moving in the right direction.
A successful culture change doesn’t take place overnight, it takes patience and the acceptance of change.
The Nets went into the offseason prepared to take the next step in the rebuild. General manager Sean Marks went right to work by making use of the team’s available cap space to add young talent to the roster.
Who Are the New Players?
D’Angelo Russell was acquired in a trade with the Lakers for long-time Net, and fan favorite, Brook Lopez. In the Russell deal, the Nets also picked up Timofey Mozgov. In separate trades, they acquired Allen Crabbe from Portland and DeMarre Carroll from Toronto.
Youth was the common denominator in each of the deals Marks signed off on for Brooklyn. Carroll brings a veteran resume to the locker room, but the Nets also picked up two 2018 draft picks in the trade. Crabbe shot 44 percent from long distance last season, he’s still only 25 years old.
The Nets also took Jarrett Allen out of Texas with the 22nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Allen will need time to develop on offense, but he should be able contribute right away on the boards.
But make no mistake about it, the 21-year old Russell was definitely the crown jewel of Brooklyn’s summer shopping.
Inconsistency on the court, along with issues off of it, derailed Russell’s career as a Laker. He now gets a fresh start as a potential core piece of the Nets’ future.
Success in The Preseason
This preseason, there have been encouraging signs from each of the players mentioned. But head coach Kenny Atkinson’s ability to integrate the new faces along with the returning Jeremy Lin, Caris LeVert, and Rondae-Hollis Jefferson will be key heading into the regular season.
The addition of Carroll to the veteran group of Lin, Trevor Booker, and Quincy Acy should also help fill the leadership void created by Lopez’s departure.
In preseason action, all signs appear to be pointing in the right direction for the Nets. But let’s not base this solely on their wins, two of those came against the Knicks – a team now in the post-Melo era.
If the preseason has shown us anything it’s this team has bought into the team philosophy Atkinson and Marks have implemented.
Atkinson’s motion offense has an emphasis on ball movement and multiple playmakers, this takes pressure off having the ball run primarily through one ball-handler. The backcourt of Lin and Russell are showing signs of needing some time before it clicks. But the overall depth of the new roster has helped offset this transition.
The Nets are also showing signs of a team ready to take the next step on defense. They rank high in defensive rebounding and field-goal defense, this indicates they’re getting after it with a laser-like focus and intensity.
The Right Approach for A Net Gain
What makes Brooklyn so intriguing is their chemistry. They’re rebuilding a franchise while having fun working through the process. This makes them fun to watch. Atkinson and Marks have worked hard to find players willing to take part in a team-first mentality.
Good habits are developed in practice. The Nets are not getting caught up in their impressive preseason record, the focus remains on improving one day at a time.
In order to judge Brooklyn’s progress this season, keep an eye on their continued approach to developing good habits on both sides of the ball.