Nov 20, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) plays the ball while being defended by Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during the second half at Barclays Center. The Trail Blazers won 129-109. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
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The Brooklyn Nets have had a bumpy road as of late. With a record of 4-9, what are the expectations for the Nets moving forward?
The Brooklyn Nets are on a four-game losing streak, and their upcoming schedule is not favorable. Their start to the season was a pleasant surprise, but reality is starting to kick in at where this team stands. It is very possible the Nets will pass last season’s 21 wins. Jeremy Lin being out has obviously hurt the Nets and their chances of winning games over the past few weeks. However, they cannot change the outcome of those games now.
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What the Nets can do is focus on what they can control. This is a year where the team seems to be focused on bonding. It is hard to lose games, but when the team is getting along, it brings a whole different, happy atmosphere. Ever since Brooklyn hired Sean Marks, there has been a lot of hope and optimism surrounding the team. Brook Lopez has never asked to leave and has said on multiple occasions that he wants to be a Net for life. Compare that to Sacramento, who can’t keep their star player happy, and it is obvious the Nets are doing something right. But where do the Nets go from here in regards to this season?
Nov 12, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (left) looks on next to Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (right) during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Nets won 122-104. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez’s Production
For starters, Jeremy Lin should be coming back soon. Although there is no timetable for his return, he should be back out on the court in a week or two. Of course, it also depends on the severity of the injury. If it is worse than originally diagnosed, then Lin could be out longer. Lin has already been reevaluated, but Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson are keeping all the details quiet. All fans can do is wait until new information is released to know where he is at with his progress.
As for what is happening on the court, Lopez is playing well. Lopez is clearly the Nets’ best player, and he is capable of scoring 20 to 30 points any given night. The problem is he cannot win games alone. With streaky performances from Bojan Bogdanovic and other members of the Nets, Lopez ends up with a heavy work load. This is why it is very important for the Nets to have Lin back in uniform sooner rather than later.
With Lin and Lopez on the court, the Nets should have more chances to win games. The Nets have had a hard time at the point guard spot with Lin out. With Lin returning, it will help the team as whole to have a designated ball handler. This will also make scoring much easier for Lopez. Expect the Nets to pick up more wins when Lin is back in the lineup.
Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets guard Marco Belinelli (21) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Hornets win 99-95. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Two more players that Nets fans should watch out for are Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert. Hollis-Jefferson has been looking better and better each game. He still has a long way to go with his development, but it is nice to see one of Brooklyn’s young players playing well. As for LeVert, he has yet to make his NBA debut. He did finally participate in his first practice this week. LeVert is still recovering from a foot injury, and there has been no definitive timetable for his return yet. It is expected that his debut is not too far in the future provided that he has no setbacks.
Isaiah Whitehead has had the opportunity to start at point guard for Brooklyn after Lin went down with an injury. Although it hurt the Nets’ chances of winning games, it did allow for Whitehead to receive valuable playing time. While Lin was out, he became the Nets’ starting point guard. Unfortunately, not long after, Whitehead suffered a concussion.
His injury ultimately paved the way for Yogi Ferrell to get a call up from the D-League. Ferrell has his faults, but he is still a rookie like Whitehead. Both these rookies seeing more floor time is good for their development, and it is refreshing to see so many young faces on the roster.
It may not be the most competitive squad the Nets have to offer, but winning a championship was not what this season was intended to be. All the players above is what this season is about. The Nets’ main goal will be developing these players in hopes that they can contribute to the rebuilding process.
Nov 2, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson reacts during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 109-101. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
As mentioned in an early roundtable piece we did on Nothin’ But Nets, we typically felt the Nets will land between the 20 to 35 win mark this season. If they continue to win about five games per month, they will easily finish with a higher win total than last season. But it will not be nearly enough to make the playoffs.
For the Nets as an organization, this season is about finding an identity and seeing what their young talent can do. If guys like Hollis-Jefferson, Whitehead, LeVert, and maybe even Yogi Ferrell can prove they have something to offer to this organization moving forward, then the Nets are in good shape for future years. In order to do this, expect an increase in minutes for each of these players after All-Star break.
This is a time for fans to go through the ups and downs that this team will have. It is a time for true fans to grow with the team. There is a possibility down the road that Hollis-Jefferson is a first-team all-defensive player, LeVert becomes a top 30 scorer in the league, and/or Whitehead becomes a solid sixth man for this squad. While none of these statements are guaranteed to unfold, it would be amazing to be a part of the journey that these players endure.