Brooklyn Nets: A new kind of pressure for Kenny Atkinson

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is entering his third season. With two losing seasons under his belt, but constant improvements throughout his tenure, does Atkinson have pressure entering the 2018-19 season?

Kenny Atkinson was named the Brooklyn Nets head coach on April 17, 2016. Before he took the Nets head coaching job, Atkinson was an assistant coach for the New York Knicks (2008-12) and the Atlanta Hawks (2012-16).

His first coaching gig came as an assistant for Paris Basket Racing, a professional club in France, from 2004-06.

His first season with the Brooklyn Nets was a hard season. Brooklyn only won 20 games in 2016-17 and the players were frustrated throughout the season. The Nets would finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.with the worst record in the NBA at 20-62.

His second season was a brighter one, not just for Atkinson but for Brooklyn. Before the season began, Brooklyn acquired D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov for their veteran big man Brook Lopez.

Sending Lopez away was definitely a hard pill for the Nets and their fans to swallow, but in the end, it looks like they found a possible long-term point guard. Brooklyn would then select center Jarrett Allen with the 22nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Overall, Brooklyn had a good year last season. Although they faced another losing season, only winning 28 games, their season showed a bright future. The 2017-18 season showed the Nets and their fans there is a good amount of young talent that can develop into great players.

The young Nets team did not give up in the closing month of the season, playing with pride. One of the main reasons Brooklyn played with pride was because of Atkinson.

He coaches every game like it’s a must-win game and is a down-to-earth coach who has a great relationship with his team.

Besides his on-the-court coaching, Atkinson has done a great job developing his young Nets. During Atkinson’s coaching career, he developed a reputation as a player development coach. While with the Nets, he has done a great job developing his players; most noticeably Caris LeVert.

LeVert has improved each season, adding new elements to his play on both ends of the floor. He helped raised LeVert’s confidence and made him into a good role player off the bench.

With all the contributions Atkinson has made to the Brooklyn Nets despite two losing seasons, does Kenny Atkinson have any pressure entering the 2018-19 season?

Pressure turns up in year 3

Kenny Atkinson will have pressure this season as the Brooklyn Nets head coach, the pressure to start turning that development into wins.

The 2018-19 season will be a huge season for the Brooklyn Nets. General manager Sean Marks has publicly said his team will not consider tanking and will play to win. It is clear the Brooklyn Nets are not a team chasing a championship next season.

The Nets should focus on one thing when it comes to winning; a playoff berth. With LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference, this gives the bottom half of the East a better chance and a confidence booster to make the playoffs.

It is very important for the Brooklyn Nets to show signs of winning next season. As of now, Brooklyn will have an estimated $50 million to $70 million in cap space for the 2019 offseason. This could translates to two max contract spots.

It will be hard task for Marks to land two top-market free agents next summer if Brooklyn does not show signs of winning in 2018-19.

This puts a good amount of pressure on Atkinson. Coming off two seasons with a  combined 48 wins, Atkinson will have to show the Nets front office that winning is coming back. Brooklyn is in the home-stretch of its rebuilding efforts and this season can be a big hit or a big miss.

If Atkinson can win more games than last season, it will not only attract big-market free agents, but also give him more job security for the future.

How many games should Brooklyn aim to win next season? The answer is as many as they can. Brooklyn is a young team that has brought in a couple of veteran players. Marks brought in Jared Dudley and Ed Davis primarily for mentoring the young Nets frontcourt.

They will be good mentors for these young talented Nets players, but they will have to get minutes on top of that.

Atkinson will have to come up with a plan regarding minutes distribution this season. This squad is filled with bench players who can play multiple positions. This is a positive, but Atkinson will have to ensure an appropriate amount of minutes for each player.

Overall, its going to be a big year for Kenny Atkinson this season. The 2018-19 season can be a big factor regarding his job security with Brooklyn. If Brooklyn once again finishes with a win total in the 20s, Marks may have to decide whether or not Atkinson will be his guy for seasons to come.

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If Atkinson can win over 30 games for Brooklyn next season and make a good push for the playoffs, his job as the Brooklyn Nets head coach will be on solid ground.

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