Brooklyn Nets: Why the team outperforms expectations

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: D' Angelo Russell
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: D' Angelo Russell /
2 of 5

The return of a Healthy Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell

The injury bug really did hit the Nets hard last year. This is a team that had to throw in four different rookie and second-year players into starting roles.

The team managed to only lose one more game from the season prior. This is huge because it shows progress. Reason being? They had little to no injuries the season prior to last.

Now, expecting the team to stay relatively healthy, it seems it can shatter its record of 20-62 from last season. It really all comes down to the health of two players, Lin and Russell.

Lin will be a key component for the Nets this year, and was even more important last season. While he missed 46 games last season, Lin, per 36 minutes, actually had the best season of his career. With averages of 21.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists, head coach Kenny Atkinson used Lin well in the limited time he had him on the floor.

Logging 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists, Lin still looked strong. The average of 14.5 points is his second best scoring output of his career. The only other time it was better was when he was a member of the New York Knicks, when Atkinson was an assistant for New York. Lin credits Atkinson for his success with the Knicks and it seemed evident with how Atkinson used him this season. Also, Lin only averaged .1 more points in that season. Lin also had his best season rebounding wise, and third-best assist wise. All this despite the lowest minutes per game since becoming a starter.

Now onto the new face of the Nets franchise, D’Angelo Russell. While Russell isn’t returning to the team like Lin, he did miss some time due to injuries last season in Los Angeles. The newly acquired guard will look to use his fresh start and offseason to return to the court healthy.

Russell missed 19 games last year yet still put up great stats. While many look at Karl Anthony-Towns and other players in the same draft class’ stats and see Russell’s aren’t as impressive, Russell is playing one of the toughest positions in the league. Having to guard players including Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden every night is a chore. At least now he only sees those three twice a season in the East. That can be a good thing considering he won’t need to prepare his body as hard and play as tough as he had to in the grueling Western Conference.

Also, the NBA’s decision to push the season back helps the Nets quite a bit. It allows more rest between games and can help the league’s health improve overall. While the Nets may not have been in the playoffs if Lin had played at least 70 games, you have to admit they would have been at least a 30 win team.

With that said, if the Nets remain healthy for most of or all of the season, expect them to exceed these low expectations placed on them.