The Brooklyn Nets currently sit at 8-28 with the worst record in the NBA. That probably isn’t exactly where the Nets wanted to be 36 games into the season, but some of those losses have to do with missing their starting point guard Jeremy Lin for practically the entire season. Nonetheless, even though this is a lost season for the team, there are still things that they should focus on as they finish out the season.
Trade Brook Lopez
This has been a topic of conversation for the last few years now, but I think this is the year where the franchise really needs to pull the trigger on doing it, if they can find a suitor with a willingness to pay. Reports have surfaced that the team wants two first-round picks for the seven foot center. That may seem like a lot to ask for, but there are teams out there that could really use Lopez as a final piece. What makes him such a valuable commodity isn’t just his low post scoring, he can also spread the floor for a team. In Kenny Atkinson’s drive and kick offense, Brook has thrived. Over the past years Brook has been developing his three point shooting ability, and this year all that developing seems to be paying off. He is averaging two three-pointers made per game, and is shooting 36% from behind the arc. Because of this perimeter game, his rebounding numbers have dipped, but he has made up for that by averaging almost three assists per game. Lopez is an interesting commodity for some teams such as the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who are all teams devoid of a scoring big man. Another thing that makes Lopez valuable is that teams know exactly what they are getting with him. He doesn’t have an attitude, he is the farthest thing from a diva, and he is willing to do whatever it takes just to help his team compete. Lopez has been a staple for the Nets for almost a decade now, but it is time for the franchise to move on and try to give Lopez an opportunity to succeed on a different team. Not only would it help the Nets with their rebuild, but it could help a competitive team that needs a scoring big man.
Develop Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s Jump shot
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a freak athlete. He has a long, wiry frame and can get up and down the floor in a hurry. One thing that is missing from his game, however, is a consistent jump shot. This is just Rondae’s second year in the league, and he has the tools to be a great player, but he will never get to the next level unless he can consistently knock down mid-range to three point line shots. He is not even close to becoming a three point threat, as he is averaging .3 attempts from behind the arc per game. He is feisty and athletic down-low, but if he can become more of a stretch player then he would immediately become a huge threat in the Nets offense.
Don’t Let Losing Have an Impact on the Culture
Coming into this season, the Nets thought that they were going to be competitive, and they had the right to think that. Before Jeremy Lin went down with an early season hamstring injury that has basically sidelined him for the entire season thus far, the Nets were 4-5 and people were at least a little bit excited. Lin and Lopez were going to be the cornerstones of Kenny Atkinson’s system, but when you take Lin away, you are taking away a huge part of their offense and leadership. Lin will probably return soon and will hopefully be able to play in a large chunk of games in the second half, but this team is going to have a lot more losses to handle. Nonetheless, the one thing that General Manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have stressed is that they are trying to build a high-character culture. Basically, they don’t want to have any more Deron Williams‘ walking out of the locker room of the Barclays Center in a Nets uniform. On paper that idea sounds great, but it is really hard to keep that type of positive culture when you are consistently losing. The NBA season isn’t even halfway over, and you can see the players getting frustrated. They held a players only meeting two weeks ago following a 23 point blowout loss to the Washington Wizards, but since then all they have done is lose. They were 8-24 when the meeting happened, and are now 8-28. Without Jeremy Lin on the floor, this team is by far the worst team in the NBA. All things considered this team maybe has ten wins left in the tank for the reminder of the season. That would mean that they have about 36 losses left to suffer. That can be really taxing for a team and a franchise, so it will be interesting to see the job that Atkinson and Marks do to keep the culture intact amidst a bevy of losses. Trading Brook Lopez won’t get this team any more wins either.
The Brooklyn Nets will not do anything special this season, but there are certain things that they can do to insure future success. Developing young players, trading Brook Lopez, and keeping the culture intact are paramount to this franchise. It is going to take a while, but if the Nets can continue to build their culture, then we may see this team in a much different light five years from now.