Brooklyn Nets: Why the team outperforms expectations

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: D' Angelo Russell
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: D' Angelo Russell /
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NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 17: Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during the game against the Boston Celtics.
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 17: Kenny Atkinson of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during the game against the Boston Celtics. /

Head coach Kenny Atkinson

Last season it was hard to find anything positive about the Nets if you weren’t a fan of the team. However you should have noticed the genius of Kenny Atkinson. His approach to the game and philosophy shined last year, despite the rough year.

Atkinson lost the team’s most important player for over 40 games and still managed to have the team be one less win worse than they were in the previous season. While Brook Lopez was the team’s best player, Lin was the most likely the most important. This is because of Lin and Atkinson’s shared bond from their previous years together. This is also because Lin runs the Nets’ offense and the team is build for a veteran guard like him.

So the fact that the Nets lost their important player for more than half of the season, and only lost one more game than the year before is crazy. A big reason for this goes back to Atkinson. Atkinson was able to get the most out of all of his guys.

Atkinson was able to make his players productive despite their shortcomings. While it was a small serving size, when he had most of his guys healthy, Atkinson was able coach the team to wins against playoff teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. Another notable win was against the Los Angeles Clippers. This win came without Lin, and the Clippers were also the third best team in the West at the time.

Many people around the league call Atkinson a players’ coach. Many of the players on the roster have a connection with him, which is important. The new Nets regime believes in creating and maintaining a family atmosphere within the team. More importantly, he is a coach that specializes in player development. This is hugely important and special for a Nets team that is digging out of the hole that they are in. Now with potentially four draft picks in the next two years, Marks has essentially closed the hole to an extent.

There’s a reason Nets’ general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson. Marks used the Gregg Popovich model in hiring Atkinson. He took a talented assistant and gave him power to grow naturally with a team. While we don’t know how good Atkinson will be as a coach, the early returns are quite intriguing. Popovich may be a future Hall of Famer, and one of the best to ever walk the sidelines, but Marks is hoping one day Atkinson can be the same way.