5 takeaways from Brooklyn Nets’ victory in preseason opener

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 3: Quincy Acy
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 3: Quincy Acy /
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 3: Quincy Acy
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 3: Quincy Acy /

Brooklyn Nets basketball is back. It couldn’t have returned in a better fashion: a victory. The game doesn’t count in the standings but the Nets showed promise for this upcoming season. Here are five things to take away from Tuesday night’s victory:

1. D’Angelo Russell is ready to rise

D’Angelo Russell shot efficiently in the team’s preseason opener against the New York Knicks. He shot 7-14 and hit two shots on four attempts from the 3-point line. Russell showed flashes of creativity, using his handles to create angles to get his shots off. One jumper in the paint stuck out, as Russell was able to elude the massive reach of Kristaps Porzingis and hit a fade away in the paint.

Russell doesn’t overwhelm with his athleticism but he is cerebral. He doesn’t take massive risks and uses creativity to give himself good shot attempts. Against the Knicks, he looked poised and confident. When his shot was falling he took charge and ran the offense. He was a team plus-16 for the game while he was playing.

The Knicks are far from a great defensive team but seeing that kind of al-around play from Russell, who also dished out four assists in his 20 minutes of playing time, is encouraging.

Russell could be ready to rise this season if Tuesday’s game is any indication.

2. Quincy Acy will be a key bench piece

Quincy Acy was very impressive off the bench for Brooklyn. He made two out of the four 3-point attempts he put up and made six trips to the free  throw line, Scoring 12 points in 13 minutes, Acy proved that he could be the perfect energetic bench presence.

Acy’s 3-point shooting may continue to hover around 40 percent. Under Atkinson, Acy has become a sniper. If he can space the floor and provide the tough physical play, he will have a role on the team. The Nets need as many guys willing to dive on the floor for loose balls as possible. For culture reasons.

3. Jeremy Lin needs to adjust; he will

Perhaps it was the jitters of returning to the home of Linsanity’s peak, but Jeremy Lin didn’t have his best game. Shooting just 2-9, Lin didn’t have the finishing touch on Tuesday. One on play, Lin was stuffed at the rim by Porzingis.

His explosion wasn’t there, but it is just preseason. Lin’s play throughout his career has seen him attack the rim with ferocity. When the games count, we will likely see a more aggressive Lin.

On the bright side, he did convert on two of five 3-point attempts. That’s a (small sample size) 40 percent. Not bad.

4. Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris could be the backup backcourt

When Lin and Russell take a seat (though Kenny Atkinson has discussed staggering the minutes of the pair to always have a starting point guard in), the Nets can trust their backup backcourt.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris are elite end-of-the-bench options.

Dinwiddie kept the offense moving well. He was a plus-8 for the Nets (third best behind Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) and he shot 3-7 and 2-2 from deep. Dinwiddie looked like the top option as a backup point guard.

Harris had the hot hand. He shot 4-7 from the 3-point line. Harris didn’t take any shots inside the perimeter. He is the designated 3-point sniper for the Nets’ bench.

With Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert out, the pair got a chance. They, along with Sean Kilpatrick, gave Nets fans some relief. The game is in good hands when the starters take a rest.

5. Isaiah Whitehead needs to play better to keep his job

Dinwiddie’s play was great for him. It wasn’t exactly ideal for Isaiah Whitehead.

Atkinson said that Whitehead had to earn his job with a strong training camp and preseason. Whitehead is off to a rough start.

Whitehead shot 0-6 and looked sloppy. He took bad shots and didn’t beat many defenders off the dribble. He went scoreless and recorded one assist and one turnover. Nothing about his play was spectacular.

With Atkinson’s grave comment about Whitehead’s job security, you hoped to see the second year man have a big debut. Instead, his job could be in danger with the Nets loaded at the guard position.