Brooklyn Nets: Week One Stars and Slackers
In the first week of the 2016-2017 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets have shown heart that has been absent since the moved from New Jersey. The Nets have a retooled roster with solid veteran talent. Unfortunately, these additions have not resulted in many wins.
Through the first week of the season, the Nets are 1-3. The sub-.500 record is no surprise to either fans or analysts. Prior to the season, ESPN predicted that the Nets would win 20 games this season. If this pace continues, ESPN might have overstated. However, what is a surprise is how competitive the Nets have been through the first week of the season. The Nets battled with the Celtics to the end. They handed a loss to a heavily favored and retooled Pacers squad.
Furthermore, the Brooklyn squad gave fans a great game that was lost on a final second tip in. Overall, outside of a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Nets have been watchable. That is not something that can be said for last season. This week also gave us some unexpected performances. Some of them good, and some of them bad.
Last year at this time, Sean Kilpatrick was an unknown prospect. Today, Kilpatrick is proving to be one of the more effective sixth men in the NBA. A player that once was only known by Nets fans is officially on the map. Through the first week of action Kilpatrick is putting up 14.8 points per game. Although one week is a small sample size, comparisons to other microwave scorers off the bench such as JR Smith, Jamal Crawford, and Leandro Barbosa are too tempting to avoid.
While there were several other strong performances during the week, Kilpatrick’s contribution in the only Nets victory to date land him star status. Against a heavily favored Pacers team, Kilpatrick netted 18 points and four three-pointers on the night. In a year where wins will be difficult to come by, Kilpatrick came through against one of the better Eastern Conference teams.
Furthermore, Kilpatrick didn’t achieve a 14.8 point per game average because of outlier performances. Through week one, Kilpatrick has been the model of consistency putting up 13, 18, 15, and 13 over four games. This level of consistency from a former D-League standout is a huge win. Hopefully, Kilpatrick can improve upon his defense and begin to contribute in other areas outside of scoring. If he can do that, he may eventually find himself as a starter.
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One week in and we already see the Bojan Bogdanovic hype beginning. Prior to the season, the only positions Nets fans felt confident in were point guard and center. However, Bogdanovic is quickly earning the trust of coaches, and the adoration of the fans. Through week one, if the Nets had to name an MVP on their roster, it would certainly go to Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic helped the Nets stay competitive against strong opposition. In two games against the highly regarded Boston Celtics and the up-and-coming Milwaukee Bucks, Bogdanovic averaged 23.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He also knocked down a respectable 35 percent from three-point range. More than anything, Bogdanovic has brought a personality to Brooklyn that New Yorkers can appreciate. Although Jeremy Lin is the face of the franchise, Bogdanovic is the heart. If Bogdanovic can continue at this rate, he will garner votes for most improved player of the year.
Outside of one down game where Bogdanovic put up four points (which was in a win), Bojan exceeded expectations. With games of 21 points, 26 points, and 15 points, Bojan is on pace for a breakout year. If Bogdanovic can continue at this rate, he will garner votes for most improved player of the year.
This was not the start to a sophomore campaign that Nets fans expected. No other Nets player had higher hopes coming into the season than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. As the Nets prospect with the highest upside, we did not expect Hollis-Jefferson to set the court on fire. What we did expect, was simply more. His 2.8 points per game leave much to be desired. However, compiling that low point per game average with only 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .5 steals, and .5 blocks per game is unacceptable. To top it off, Hollis-Jefferson shot an abysmal 21 percent from the field. Hollis-Jefferson must figure out how to contribute in other ways if he intends to continue to earn minutes. Until then, he lands on our “slackers” list.
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To top it off, Hollis-Jefferson shot an abysmal 21 percent from the field. If Hollis-Jefferson continues at this rate, he may get supplanted as a starter by Kilpatrick. Furthermore, if he continues to disappear, his minutes may dwindle altogether. In his defense, the Nets did go up against some of the Eastern Conferences better teams. However, if he can not add value as a scorer, Hollis-Jefferson must figure out how to contribute in other ways if he intends to continue to earn minutes. Until then, he lands on our “slackers” list.
Brook Lopez/Nets Management
I can fully appreciate the need for players to rest at some point in the season. However, needing rest by game three? Not only did Brook Lopez rest for game three, Lopez rested in a game the Nets could have won. In a season where the Nets must win as many games as possible to avoid handing a top three pick to the Celtics, using rest days so freely must stop. The Nets should be a .500 team right now. Unfortunately, Lopez was not on the court to grab the final rebound that John Henson ended up putting back for the win.
The caution is understandable. Lopez has been plagued with injuries for years. Furthermore, the organization is likely trying to keep Lopez healthy until trade deadline so they do not miss out on any potential deals due to injury. But rest after three games for a player that is 28 years old? That is comical. If Lopez stays healthy and the Nets management makes a trade deadline deal, they will win Stars status for that week. For now, Lopez & Nets Management, you are both SLACKING!