Brooklyn Nets: How Sean Marks rebuilt Brooklyn and claimed New York

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Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets Sean Marks. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

A little more than three years ago, Sean Marks came to the Brooklyn Nets with a plan. After grabbing 2 premier free agents, Marks is king of New York.

It’s February 2016 and the Brooklyn Nets are hosting the New York Knicks.

There is little intrigue to the crosstown “rivalry,” with expectations for both New York teams low. The Knicks are 10 games under .500 and the Nets are off to an abysmal 15-40 start.

Fans shuffle into the half-empty Barclays Center just in time for tipoff. Brooklyn announces its starting five of Donald Sloan, Wayne Ellington, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez.

Knicks fans overwhelmingly make themselves known during the pregame introductions.

Brooklyn jumps out to an early lead and controls the game throughout, led by Lopez. Nets fans take what joy they can out of the win, but it is well-known that the team is heading for one of the worst records in the league.

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets Sean Marks. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Enter Sean Marks

In the midst of another lost season, Brooklyn announced the hiring of a new general manager from the San Antonio Spurs named Sean Marks. The Nets had fired GM Billy King and head coach Lionel Hollins a month earlier.

Marks had worked his way up the ranks with the Spurs, starting as a basketball operations assistant and eventually being named assistant GM. Upon his arrival in Brooklyn, with virtually no young talent or draft capital, Marks was inheriting the worst situation in recent NBA history.

For a Nets fan base that had lost all faith in the previous front office, Marks represented a fresh start. However, given the situation he would enter, hope was limited.

In spite of this, Marks began Brooklyn’s ascension back to competitive basketball envisioning an organization with a scrupulous staff in all facets of operations.

His first move was to hire Kenny Atkinson as head coach. Atkinson spent four years with the Atlanta Hawks under Mike Budenholzer, earning praise for his player development.

In the coming months, Marks would surround himself and Atkinson with a multitude of young, hungry basketball minds, naming Trajan Langdon assistant general manager and Adam Harrington director of player development.

Langdon had been a scout with Marks in San Antonio and Harrington was Kevin Durant‘s trainer and shooting coach in Oklahoma City.

Anthony Puccio of SportsNet New York recalled what Marks said upon his arrival in Brooklyn

“I have a clear vision of what I’d like to implement here. It’ll be built through a solid, strong foundation, systematic process. You can bring in a star player, but if he doesn’t fit with the vision with where you’re going, that can derail a system as well.

“So, whoever we bring in here, they’re gonna play team basketball.”

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