Opinion: Future of the Brooklyn Nets

From the Blog

Opinion: Future of the Brooklyn Nets

By: Isaac Carson

The Vegas Odds book has the Brooklyn Nets’ over under at 20½ wins on the year. This
is absurd based on the team's newly acquired talent and I predict the 2017-2018 Brooklyn Nets
will win at least 28 games this year.
Here is why: The Brooklyn Nets added D’angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov in a trade
with the Lakers earlier this offseason meaning there will finally be a scoring guard in Brooklyn.
This will be the first year D’angelo Russell will be unrestricted in his young career,
allowing him to finally blossom. Russell’s rookie year was Kobe’s farewell tour making every
game about getting Kobe the ball and getting out of his way. That is no way for a rookie to
properly develop in the NBA. You can learn a lot from an NBA legend by watching and playing
with him, but you can’t show off your own talents without the ball in your hands.
I think this will be the year he will have that freedom to show off what he’s learned,
because he certainly did learn a lot from Kobe as his teammate. If don’t believe me then go
watch his college highlight tape and compare it to his best plays from last season. In those
videos you will find that the amount of turn-jumpers alone is an amazing improvement to his
game.
This will also be the first time in Russell’s career that he will have both the freedom to
succeed as well as the supporting cast to do so. In his second year in LA, he shared the court
with so much young talent that it’s no wonder they won just 17 games. The Lakers players with
the top four MPG (Minutes Per Game) were; Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram,
and D’angelo Russell. With their ages being; 24, 22, 19, and 20 respectively. There is little to no
experience and knowledge of the game at the professional level in that young line-up that will
enhance a player’s development. D’angelo now has more support with these veteran players to
help him succeed. The starting line-up for the 2017-2018 Nets is projected to be-
PG – D’angelo Russell (21)
SG – Sean Kilpatrick (27)
SF – DeMarre Carroll (31)
PF – Trevor Booker (29)
C – Timofey Mozgov (31)
This line-up has age and experience for D’angelo to work with. Experience beyond age,
three of the five starters have playoff experience. Also, it doesn’t sacrifice the culture of the Nets
due to the fact they are returning 2 starters that will be familiar with coach Kenny Atkinson and
their system. Plus, D’angelo has already played with Timofey Mozgov in LA. (I’m not sure if they
were best buds on the Lakers, but they did share the court quite often and having familiarity
always helps ease the transition.) It’s also important to note the stats of these players last
season (listed below).

This shows that D’Angelo is going to be their first option for scoring and he will be running the
offense. It also shows that the other four starters are capable of scoring.
By looking at this table we can see that none of these players were playing ‘Starter’s
Minutes’ last year. If you look at other Eastern Conference Team’s starters you will see the
difference in minutes played. For example, the Raptor’s starters averaged 31.14 MPG, the
Wizards 33.26 MPG, and the Heat 32.32 MPG. Compared to the minutes of these Nets players
who are averaging 25 MPG. These Nets starters will likely all play at least 5 more minutes per
game this upcoming year which will help increase their stats and improve chemistry on the
court.
Outside of the starting line-up, the Nets have a decent bench to back up their main cast.
Last season, Jeremy Lin was putting up stats and minutes that will be worthy of 6th Man of the
Year honors hoisting up 14.5 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.8 RPG. The problem with these numbers are
that Jeremy only played 36 games and now he will be expected to be present in at least 65
games this upcoming year to be considered for 6th man honors. Next, the Nets acquired guard
Allen Crabbe this off season. Crabbe will be a great scoring addition to the Nets coming off the
bench. The Nets also have a group of guards on their bench all above the 8 PPG mark,
including Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris Levert, and Joe Harris. If the Nets can figure out the
minutes shared coming off the bench, I suspect one of these guards will make the jump to at
least 14 PPG. The addition last year of Quincy Acy and signing of free agent Tyler Zeller shows
the Nets have strengthened their frontcourt. I would be more confident if the Nets could sign
maybe two more solid role-playing forwards, but for now this is decent.
The Nets wanted to get rid of Brook, they were sick of him not doing anything. Even if
D’angelo plateaus at 15 points per game on his career that's still a win for the Nets long term.
Brook will never be an all-star again in his career. He will either be a minimal role-player on the
Lakers, or will find a new team next season. D'angelo however is secure in Brooklyn which I
know sounds more like a curse but as the best player on this team, the young PG will have time
to grow. Eventually the Nets won’t have to give away any more picks, and can get him support.
Or D’angelo will be good enough to attract attention of other players to join him in New York.