The Brooklyn Nets improved by 8 wins in 2017-18 and have 3 players who could surprise NBA observers with their progress in 2018-19.
To some people in NBA circles last year, the Brooklyn Nets improved and took strides towards being a respectable team again. Improving on their win total by eight last season, coach Kenny Atkinson is looking to get more out of his players coming into his third year as the head man.
Last season saw the Nets start to gel into their fast-paced, 3-point-heavy style of offense as many players had career years showing they were more than capable of being more than role payers. This season, I expect more Nets players to improve their game as they develop.
Here are three players for the Nets I expect to surprise people in the 2018-19 season.
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The first person I expect to surprise people this season is sharpshooter Allen Crabbe. The 26-year-old shooting guard averaged 13 points and four rebounds last season in his first season with Brooklyn following a trade from Portland.
For the first few months of the season, Crabbe struggled with his shooting, as he only shot 40 percent from the field. One positive from last year was he shot the 3-ball at a nice 37 percent clip, making 201 3s for Brooklyn. It took a while for him to adjust to a bigger role as a starter.
In his four years in Portland, he averaged only three 3-point attempts a game, but last year, he averaged 7.1.
I think Crabbe will have a great season next year for Brooklyn for many reasons, but most importantly he will be more comfortable in this offense and showed he could play at a high level when the Nets were fully healthy.
After D’Angelo Russell came back from injury last year, Crabbe’s performance improved greatly. After the All-Star Game, Crabbe was averaging 15 points, shooting 43 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.
The Nets will have the possibility to be one of the more deadly 3-point shooting teams next year if Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris both perform well.
The second player I think will surprise people in the 2018-19 season is second-year big man Jarrett Allen. Last season Allen took over the starting job rather quickly from incumbent Timothy Mozgov and never looked back.
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The 6-foot-11 center showed he was a legit rim protector and could finish at the rim. The original plan was that Allen was not going to play much last year, but he improved so much that he worked his way into starting and being a main building block for Brooklyn.
Last year as a rookie, Allen averaged eight points, five rebounds and a block per game in 72 games for the Nets.
Like Crabbe, Jarrett Allen flourished after the All-Star Break with the Nets being fully healthy, as he shot nearly 60 percent from the field and averaged two blocks a game in the final three months of the season.
The Nets will rely on Allen much more this year as he goes into training camp as the clear starter at center. The Nets brought in big men Kenneth Faried and Ed Davis, who will fight to be the back up Allen this year.
I think this will further Allen’s development because he gets to gain knowledge and learn from two hard-working veterans in this league who are tenacious on the boards and in finishing at the rim. I expect Allen’s numbers to only increase a tad as his usage will be higher than last year.
The Nets want Allen to be that anchor at the rim and if he bulked up in the offseason, I expect he will surprise a lot of people in his sophomore campaign.
The last player I expect will surprise people for the Nets this season is third year guard-forward Caris LeVert. Last season, coach Kenny Atkinson used LeVert in many different positions, but mostly as the backup ball handler to D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie.
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LeVert averaged 12 points while dishing out four assists and getting three rebounds in 26 minutes a game. Though he struggled hitting the 3-point shot consistency, he improved on getting to the rim, playing the point guard position and, most importantly, defending.
LeVert’s height at 6-foot-7 is a weapon the Nets benefited from last year as he could guard the 1, 2 and 3 positions while providing versatility on the offensive side of the ball.
While Russell was out the first half of the year and with Jeremy Lin out for the season, LeVert proved he could handle the load and was one of the main reasons the Nets traded Lin to Atlanta in the offseason.
After the All-Star Break, LeVert stepped up his game like the two prior players mentioned in this article and gave the Nets a lot to be excited for this season. Coming into his third season in the NBA, LeVert is on my radar for players who will surprise people because of what he can do.
Versatile guys like LeVert are needed in coach Atkinson’s position-less style of basketball and he fits many things the Nets are trying to do.
Getting stronger and improving his jump shot will be things to look out for this season for LeVert, but I think he will surprise a lot of people this year with the additions the Nets added.
His chemistry on the floor with Allen and Russell allows for Atkinson to use many different lineups to throw the opposing defense off.
This season will be interesting for the Nets as they have control of their own picks and lots of cap space for the summer of 2019, but I feel this season will be one of growth for many young players on the Nets.
The dog days of losing and having no high draft picks are over and general manager Sean Marks is starting to build something in Brooklyn. The improvement of the young guys is the key for them this year and I think they will surprise a lot of people in the upcoming season.