Brooklyn Nets: Week Two Stars and Slackers

Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Members of the Brooklyn Nets including Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin (second from right) react during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Members of the Brooklyn Nets including Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin (second from right) react during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The past week of Brooklyn Nets basketball has been the most exciting for fans in over a year.  After winning two of three games, the Nets are only one game away from the .500 mark.  Although it’s sad that we are celebrating a 3-4 record, the Nets are clearly exceeding expectations.

After going one and three through the first week of the season, the Nets bounced back by winning two of their last three games.  With convincing victories over a strong Detroit Pistons team and a young but talented Minnesota Timberwolves squad, the Nets are surprising fans and analysts alike.

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What’s most impressive, however, is that even in their losses, they have remained competitive (for the most part), as exhibited by the hard fought battle against the Charlotte Hornets.  As always, these results are on the backs of some Brooklyn Stars, and Brooklyn Slackers.

Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Stars

Brook Lopez

After kicking off the season on the slackers list, Brook Lopez bounced back with a vengeance.  Against premier defensive big man Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons, Lopez had a “grown man’s” double-double.  With 34 points and 11 rebounds on 21 shots, Lopez was unstoppable.  Just six nights later, Lopez led the Nets to their second win in one week’s time with 26 points on 16 shots.  Needless to say, Lopez has been the two E’s.  Efficient, and effective.

The number one goal for the Brooklyn Nets this year should be to move Brook Lopez at the trade deadline.  In order to do so, the Nets need Lopez to help them win as many games as possible (to devalue the pick going to Boston) while contending for an All-Star roster spot.  If these two things occur, Lopez will position himself as a valuable asset for a contending team and potential trade partner.  However, if he continues to produce at this clip, the Nets might want to keep him.  If the Nets continue winning and keep Lopez, Brooklyn may be a more attractive destination for free agents.  Either way, Lopez’s play gives a reason for hope.

Kenny Atkinson

Is it too early to give out the Coach of the Year award?  Kenny Atkinson receives a standing ovation for the play of his team.  Most analysts predicted the Nets would not win more than 20 games this season.  In fact, many felt the Nets roster would land them with the worst record in the NBA.  Atkinson has this squad playing well above their talent level, which is what all great coaches do.  This is a true example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  That has everything to do with Atkinson.

The New York Knicks are already in turmoil with a far superior roster than the Nets.  Their coaching staff is already in disarray as Kurt Rambis was recently appointed the defensive coordinator role, while players are outwardly speaking up against head coach Jeff Hornacek.  The Minnesota Timberwolves have won just one game despite having back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.  The Chicago Bulls are wildly inconsistent with a deep veteran roster.  Looking around the NBA, teams with more talent are playing below their level, while Atkinson has the Nets playing above their level.  Winning two games in a week for a team projected to win 21 games on the season earns Atkinson star status.

Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) on the bench with an injury in the first quarter against Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Slackers

Jeremy Lin’s Hamstring

Hamstring injuries are extremely frustrating.  Players who are well-conditioned, well-prepared, and take care of their bodies constantly fall victim to the infamous lingering hamstring injury.  Although the Nets played well without Lin, the hamstring is a low point in an otherwise amazing week in Brooklyn.  The fear with hamstring injuries is that oftentimes they are recurring.  Unfortunately, Lin could not take part in the Nets’ most successful week in over a year.  If Lin comes back from this injury and the Nets fall back down to earth, people will irrationally label Lin as the scapegoat.

The fortunate thing is that the injury gave Isaiah Whitehead a much-needed opportunity.  Whitehead made the most of the opportunity with solid play while contributing in various statistical categories.  However, injuries this early on in the season for a team trying to gel together impairs growth.  Hopefully, Lin’s hamstring heals up quickly so he can come back to the team.

Anthony Bennett

How is it possible that a former number one overall pick can’t get minutes on a team with subpar depth?  Unfortunately, this likely spells the end for Anthony Bennett, who got two DNP coaches decisions this week.  He did play in one game though, logging a whopping four minutes! Bennett may be better served following the footsteps of what other highly touted draft picks have done.  He should play in China.

Prior to playing overseas, Gerald Green was viewed as a talent that could not put things together.  Upon his return, he developed into a solid scorer and bench producer.  Michael Beasley had a similar journey.  After being drafted number two overall, Beasley quickly fell out of good graces in Miami and became a journeyman.  Upon his return from international basketball, Beasley had successful stints in Miami and Houston.  Recently, Jason Terry went on record and said that Beasley is a changed man.  Perhaps if Bennett goes to China and comes back, he can earn himself more than four minutes in three games.  Until that time, SLACKER!!

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