The Brooklyn Nets dropped a tough one Sunday evening at home to the Denver Nuggets. The Nets led at halftime and came out of the locker room and got blitzed 40-21. Things had been looking good in the early season for the Nets, wins over the Cavaliers, Hawks and Magic had fans optimistic. Then the team laid an egg last Friday against their cross city rivals, the Knicks. You would expect the team to come out yesterday and wipe that foul taste out of their collective mouths. It started off that way, but then a problem that plagued this team all of last season reared its ugly head. The inability to build on successful quarters and closing. This prompted a question along press row (at least the section I sit in). How good are the Nets really?
The Nets don’t have an all-star on their roster, they may have a potential coaches selection in D’Angelo Russell maybe? They have a lot of really solid NBA rotation players and future solid guys (Caris LeVert). The loss of Jeremy Lin for the season was certainly problematic but he’s not an all-star either. It is very difficult for a team without an all-star to win a lot of games in the NBA. But, the Nets can start building good habits and a foundation and culture of effort (which is there) and wins so that maybe one day when they land a star, they can begin thinking about the playoffs.
Where the Nets can make a step forward is in the leadership from the team’s young guys. Players like LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, and D’Angelo Russell. Yes these guys are young and largely unproven, and two of them are brand new to the team. But, the lack of an all-star is an opportunity for one of these guys to step up and learn on the fly. There is no established veteran so no need to worry about stepping on toes. Yes, here is DeMarrre Carroll, Timofey Mozgov, and Trevor Booker but these are not stars. Their play doesn’t suggest that the young guys need to “wait their turn” or “play their role.” Several times during yesterday’s third quarter one of those guys could’ve stepped up and implored the team to pick up its intensity.
It’s still very early, not even Halloween, so it’s too early to say how good or bad the Nets really are. The team is competing hard in spurts, and needs to lock in even more when things start to slip and shots stop falling. We saw it last night. Bad offense seeped into an already bad defense making it even worse.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson spoke at length postgame about leadership and what guys need to do when things start slipping during the game.