With a 9-2 record the last 11 games, including a 7-game winning streak, these young Brooklyn Nets are finally playing like their fan base knew they could.
Travel back in time to a month ago. Coming off their fourth straight loss, Caris LeVert‘s injury had the Brooklyn Nets, their coaching staff and their fans in a downward tailspin, with the plane about to hit the ground and crash and burn.
The Nets, in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, were in dire need of a leader. The team kept coming so close to beating playoff-caliber teams before fading in the end.
The Nets and their fans were ready to embrace the tank, ready for another season into the NBA’s depths of hell being a lottery team. Only this time they’d have their own pick.
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With the holidays fast approaching, Nets fans began to have visions of highly touted draft prospect Zion Williamson dancing in their heads. However, they were not accepting of that fate, regardless how shiny the prize looked from afar.
Nets fans knew this team’s potential, they knew that this team was ready to compete. They saw the competitive strength and perseverance through these close games and knew that these young Nets had the ability. However, they didn’t have the guts.
They lacked the “closer,” they lacked leadership. The way Paul George took over the fourth quarter in that game in early December was a calling card to someone, anyone, on the team that this is what it takes.
Now fast forward a little more than three weeks from that loss and these young Nets are clicking on all cylinders. Not only are they “hanging around” with playoff teams, they are actually beating them, showing that we have arrived and we are for real.
The way they are playing right now shows their work ethic, perseverance and embodies the borough of Brooklyn. Reaching down deep, and gutting wins out. Looking adversity in the face and screaming at it: “WE AIN’T GOIN’ OUT LIKE THIS!.
Basketball is back in Brooklyn … and we ain’t tanking!
A huge part in these newly found winning ways is the leadership and guidance of a Net acquired last of season, Jared Dudley.
Another Sean Marks steal labeled as a salary dump, Dudley has been a key cog in getting these young Nets to understand their roles and helped other Nets reach the next level of their ability.
In today’s NBA world of talent, 3-point shooting and analytics what was lost, but gained, for the Brooklyn Nets was the leadership, locker room and on-court presence that a guy like Dudley could bring.
If you watch any Nets game, you can see him constantly talking with his teammates, constantly pointing in various directions letting his teammates know what’s going on.
He’s an on-court coach and this cannot be taken for granted anymore.
It has been said that people come into our lives for reasons — some good, some bad. Sometimes we will know right away why they entered and sometimes it takes a while. Make no mistake, Jared Dudley came into the lives of young Nets to bring them to the next level.
Kudos to coach
Another reason, and possibly the biggest one, for the Nets success has to be recognized as well as the on-court coach. It’s the actual coach!
Prior to the winning streak, even dating back to when coach Kenny Atkinson got the job, he seemed to have had a stubbornness to him.
He would constantly stick to his belief that his way was going to win games, never adjusting when the opposing team’s coach would adjust to our game plan.
However, there has been proof in recent games that he’s giving a little. Allowing D’Angelo Russell to shoot more mid-range shots, where he’s much more effective, or his latest adjustment playing the box-and-one zone that shut down Kemba Walker, allowing them to win a double-overtime thriller against the Charlotte Hornets.
Keep it up, coach!
And keep it up, Brooklyn! So long as they keep playing like this, the road to an NBA championship must go through Brooklyn!