Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish: Mike D’Antoni right about Kenny Atkinson

(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

After a migraine Monday, the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish is back at full steam, with some prescience on the part of Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish is back after a rough adjustment to Standard Time with some glowing praise from a former boss about Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

After the Houston Rockets came from behind to beat the Nets at Barclays Center Friday night, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni had lots of nice things to say about Atkinson to Moke Hamilton of The Athletic (subscription required).

D’Antoni had Atkinson as an assistant for his entire three-plus season run as head coach of the New York Knicks from 2008-12, so he got a pretty good feel for what Atkinson brought to the game.

It was Atkinson’s first on-the-bench job as an NBA coach after he had spent a season with the Rockets as their director of player development.

The 51-year-old Atkinson broke into coaching in 2004 as an assistant for Paris Basket Racing in France.

He spent two seasons in that role after a 14-year career as a player that included stops in the old Continental Basketball Association and the USBL before he headed abroad, playing in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Atkinson left the Knicks in 2012 and spent four seasons under Mike Budenholzer with the Atlanta Hawks before landing the Nets gig in 2016.

Russell draws praise for mature outlook

Before the Nets sliced and diced the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, Atkinson told the press that he was impressed by the maturity shown by young point guard D’Angelo Russell in the wake of another fourth-quarter benching.

Russell did not play the final 17 minutes of Friday’s loss to the Rockets, but Atkinson liked the way Russell reacted to it, per Greg Logan of Newsday.

"“I think from his quotes, he understands it. He’ll be ready to go …, he’ll be in the starting lineup and hopefully will have a good game.”"

Russell had a strong second half and scored 21 points with six assists and only one turnover in Brooklyn’s 122-97 win over the Sixers and was also very engaged on the defensive end.

Atkinson hopes that can be a springboard into an extended period of strong play from the talented but inconsistent player.

"“Now the challenge is for him to do it on this road trip and keep doing it. I do think the flow of our offense and the fact we got out more in transition helps him. Sometimes we get stagnant and they lock into him. But we did a great job with our pace and getting him free and in flow.”"

Russell has started all 10 games for the Nets, but hasn’t always been one of the five on the floor to close them. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 27.4 minutes per game this season, shooting.411/.377/15-for-19.

LeVert the mentor

In this piece from Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, guard Caris LeVert talks about accomplishing a goal he had set for himself as an NBA player in the launching of “The 22 Initiative,” a mentoring program for high-school students in Brooklyn.

"“We started a program for 22 kids around different high schools in Brooklyn and the idea is to spend time with them and have them do different stuff to help in the future.”"

The first day of the program was Sunday, with the selected students attending the Brooklyn Nets-Philadelphia 76ers game at Barclays Center and meeting with LeVert and Nets’ executives before the game.

LeVert’s goal is to provide a resource for teenagers who might not have access to the help they need.

"“Growing up, I didn’t really have anybody that was close to the business world or the NBA world. So for me, I always wanted to do this when I got to this level.”"

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The Nets may be just 4-6 on the young season, but one area this young team does seem to excel is in its outreach to the community.