It’s the season of giving, no doubt that tryptophane from Thursday’s dinner is still having an effect. Amidst the festivities and indulging in culinary delights, it’s very important that we all take time to give thanks, and appreciate the many good things in our lives. NBA franchises are no different. On the day after Thanksgiving and at the start of this holiday season, here are the five things the Nets are thankful for:
1. Culture and Environment
GM Sean Marks and HC Kenny Atkinson are the big reasons for this, when they inherited this team it was a dumpster fire. The roster had aging players on massive contracts, no draft picks, and the culture wasn’t such that any notable free agents would even consider playing for the franchise. Enter Marks and Atkinson. Marks was groomed in the San Antonia Spurs organization, the league’s gold standard – in recent years – for stability, culture, and winning. Atkinson was an assistant in New York, under offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni. He then went on to be an assistant in Atlanta under Mike Budenholzer, a coach of the year and Gregg Popovich disciple. Between the two men, they weathered the storm of losing seasons with no draft picks and have finally drafted young talent and created a culture and atmosphere conducive for success. Speaking of…
2. Cap Space
Atkinson has made some shrewd moves with limited pieces, and this coming summer (2019) the Nets have room for two maximum salary players. They can be serious players in the free agency market and don’t have to give up draft picks to acquire superstars. That is huge, and make no mistake Brooklyn is a free agent destination. Players around the league and their representation have taken note. Imagine being one of the faces of the Brooklyn Nets resurgence in NYC? Lots of opportunities for the right marquee superstar.
3. Caris LeVert’s Injury Prognosis
The Nets young star was coming into his own this season before what appeared to be a horrific broken leg in Minnesota threatened to derail his career. After an examination, it turned out he only dislocated the foot. There were no fractures and only moderate ligament damage. LeVert will still need to undergo a rigorous rehabilitation stint but the prognosis is for a full recovery. This is excellent news for Caris and the Nets. If he’s able to come back towards the end of the season, he can play under game conditions and get comfortable with doing everything again and head into offseason work with no limitations. A healthy Caris LeVert is a 20 ppg scorer on this team who can play excellent defense and would be an excellent piece on a deep contending playoff team. The “blessing in disguise” of the LeVert injury is…
4. D’Angelo Russell’s Extended Crunch Time Audition
The Nets will know for sure if D’Angelo Russell is a part of their future or not. Earlier in the season when LeVert was healthy, Atkinson wouldn’t play Dlo in crunch time. He didn’t trust the point guard’s decision making in tight situations. Out of pure necessity, he has to have Dlo on the floor. So the 4th year player will have every opportunity to prove he can be the point guard on a good team. Dlo shows flashes but struggles with consistency. Part of that is due to injury. But if he is healthy all season and proves he can be consistent, the Nets will likely give him a rookie extension and we’ll see if he can fulfill all that potential.
5. Spencer Dinwiddie
If things don’t go well with Dlo, the Nets have Spencer Dinwiddie. Now Dinwiddie is an unrestricted free agent and will go to whoever is the highest bidder. But, here’s the thing, Dlo’s upside is higher in terms of his ceiling. If Dlo reaches his full potential he is a multiple time all-star. Dinwiddie is the far more consistent and reliable player right now. While his ceiling isn’t as high as Dlo’s, his floor is higher. In other words, the Nets can likely re-sign Dinwiddie to a smaller contract, and let Dlo walk if some team signs him to a bigger offer sheet.
Check out video of Nets HC Kenny Atkinson talking about what he is thankful for regarding his team.