The Brooklyn Nets won 28 games last year, an 8-win improvement from their 20-win campaign in 2016-17. But is winning more games this year the only way Kenny Atkinson’s group should measure success this season?
The Brooklyn Nets should definitely be able to win more games this year and I think that 35-40 wins is a good target range to consider this season a success. If Brooklyn is pushing for the final playoff spot down the stretch, that would be a major accomplishment for the team.
But the continued development of their youth is much more important than the number of wins Brooklyn tallies this season. In particular, I would like to see D’Angelo Russell take the next step in his development by becoming the franchise cornerstone the Nets brought him here to be.
He needs to keep his turnovers to a minimum and become a better facilitator in order to take the next step.
Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert had great preseasons and both should improve tremendously this year. I’d like to see Allen be more confident in his low-post scoring ability and continue to be a force on the glass and protecting the rim.
LeVert provides the Nets with a lot of flexibility with his ability to play both guard positions along with small forward. For him to take the next step, he needs to be more consistent with his perimeter shooting.
Allen Crabbe is another piece that the Brooklyn Nets need to be more consistent. When he’s on, he’s as good as anyone. He just needs to be able to show it on a nightly basis. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the longest-tenured Net, just needs to be more composed.
His brand of play perfectly exemplifies the grit Atkinson is trying to instill in this team. His hustle is infectious, but sometimes he can be a little out of control. If he composes himself more and slows down when he needs to, he can be an impact player in this league.
As for Brooklyn’s two draft picks, Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, they just need to contribute in some fashion. As long as both are able to log minutes in Atkinson’s rotation and be able to knock down open shots, they will be considered successful draft picks for this year.
Musa carries higher expectations since he was selected in the first round. The hope is for him to become a spark plug providing instant offense off the bench.
As for the team as a whole, the two most important things they need to focus on this year in order to improve is being able to close out games and limiting turnovers. They averaged 15.2 turnovers per game last year which ranked 25th in the league. That’s far from a winning formula.
As far as closing out games, the Brooklyn Nets need to find a reliable scorer who they can count on down the stretch to finish the job. Spencer Dinwiddie filled that role well last season, especially when Russell was out recovering from his knee injury.
Crabbe was that guy at times last season, too. But the Nets need to find that guy who’s going to be that hero for them every game the way Joe Johnson was a few years ago.
If all or most of these things occur, the Brooklyn Nets could measure this upcoming season as a successful one. To me, it’s not completely about winning more games. It’s about the continued progression and development of one of the most promising young teams in the NBA.