1. Turnovers trending badly the wrong direction
Ball security has been a point of emphasis for the Brooklyn Nets in the preseason, but the situation is trending very much the wrong way.
The Nets turned it over 18 times against the New York Knicks in the preseason opener and had 20 miscues Monday night against the Detroit Pistons.
On Wednesday, the Nets nearly matched their total from the first two games with a whopping 34 turnovers that led to 47 points for the Raptors.
Toronto was sloppy, too, with 22 turnovers that Brooklyn converted into only 15 points.
D’Angelo Russell, who scored 17 points to go with six rebounds, was a major culprit. He was scolded by coach Kenny Atkinson after exiting the game in the second half and finished with six turnovers against just one assist.
Atkinson told the press, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post, that Russell’s ball security was, in fact, the topic of the discussion.
"“Yeah, we talked about it during the game, take care of the ball. That’s been one of our points of emphasis all camp, value the ball, value the ball. It was an issue last year, so we’ve got to help him. We’ve got to do better.”"
Second-round pick Rodions Kurucs got his first extended playing time, logging 18 minutes after standing out in a pair of fourth-quarter appearances this preseason. Playing against regular NBA play, it didn’t go as well.
Kurucs turned the ball over six times, as well, and finished with four points and six rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting.
Caris LeVert had five turnovers and everyone who played more than a cameo (Mitch Creek and Alan Williams made their Nets’ preseason debuts in the final couple of minutes of the game) had at least one turnover.
When coaches say to share the ball, ideally they mean limiting that to your own teammates. There’s no other way to put it — the ball security was simply ghastly and a lot of that fell to Russell.
Much was made about Russell’s need to develop as a leader this season, but when a calming voice was needed to keep the train on the tracks in the third quarter, Russell was too busy driving the engine off a cliff to serve as a steadying influence. Instead, the problems mushroomed.
There’s a fine line between aggressive and reckless and Russell, in particular, crossed that line on several occasions.
One third-quarter sequence ended with a turnover when Russell drove, got himself trapped under the basket, and instead of kicking out to one of two open teammates on the perimeter, Russell attempted to force the ball into Jarrett Allen in the lane, passing right into heavy traffic.
When the Nets needed to simply slow down and focus on execution, Russell played faster and got even more loose with the ball. His teammates then followed suit and in that third quarter alone, Brooklyn gave the ball away 15 times. That’s not a great number for an entire game.
For a single quarter? It’s an absolute embarrassment at the pro level.