What should our expectations be for the Brooklyn Nets next season?

Caris LeVert Brooklyn Nets(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Caris LeVert Brooklyn Nets(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs for the first time since the 2014/15 season last year; with a retooling of their roster this summer, what can we expect moving forward?

The Brooklyn Nets in the first quarter of last year’s regular-season looked like they were doomed for another appearance in the lottery after getting out to a tumultuous 8-18 start. However, from December onwards they played like a Top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs.

This summer saw a fair share of subtractions from the roster that shocked the NBA world a season ago and exceeded expectations; D’Angelo Russell is a Warrior, DeMarre Carroll is a Spur, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a Raptor, Ed Davis is on the Jazz, Allen Crabbe is a Hawk, Jared Dudley is a Laker, and lastly, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham are now members of the T-Wolves.

These were all key components within the Nets rotation last season, Russell emerged an All-Star and the team had the second-highest scoring output from their bench in the NBA in 2018/19. But the transactions made this summer softened the blow of their departures.

Sean Marks, Trajan Langdon, and the front office personnel really did an amazing job in reforming how Brooklyn was perceived in the NBA—a team that committed one of the worst trades (though it wasn’t hated at first, remember) in recent memory and stuck in asset purgatory to a legitimate contender within the span of three years.

The culture in place has been felt by the remainder of the NBA, something was brewing in Brooklyn, and now that the framework was in place it was time to make some significant noise.

Kyrie Irving, an All-NBA point guard, and former NBA champion joins the roster; and he’s accompanied by the likes of Kevin Durant, who needs no introduction and DeAndre Jordan. If depth was a genuine concern, Marks did a great job in retooling the rotation, ensuring that this team wasn’t going to be front-heavy.

Savvy veterans Wilson Chandler and Garrett Temple join the roster, a potential under-the-radar candidate David Nwaba was acquired, Taurean Prince will in all likelihood see starter-like minutes, Henry Ellenson was signed on a two-way deal and the team drafted Nicolas Claxton with the 31st overall pick.

Despite all these additions/subtractions, there will be familiar faces come opening night of the 2019/20 season.

Caris LeVert was having a breakout campaign before the ankle injury but did find his rhythm in the latter stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs, there’s the consensus that he keeps that momentum going into next year.

Spencer Dinwiddie finished 4th in the NBA in Sixth Man of the Year voting and had he not missed 14 games last season he may have placed amongst the finalists for the award. His game has progressed with every passing season, he’ll be 26-years-old and entering season six of his NBA career—there’s the prospect that he also makes that proverbial leap.

Jarrett Allen has shown tremendous upside as a defensive-anchor in the interior, and an excellent roller in pick and roll sets. He’s still growing into his NBA body and needs to work at finishing around the rim, but it seems he’s on a path to be amongst the best big men in the league in the near future.

Then there’s elite three-point marksman, Joe Harris, who’s widely known for that attribute but it doesn’t summarize his entire game—not even close. He is great at reading the defense and knows when to put the ball on the floor or find a teammate when the opposition is pinching him tightly.

Likewise, he’s surprisingly physical, has no issues taking a smaller guard off the dribble and into the low block where he can overpower him using his 6’6, 218-pound frame for the easy deuce. He’s a smart ballplayer and is improving his offensive dynamic with every passing season.

Rodions Kurucs started 46 games for the Nets last year as a rookie, he’s a great cutter and his defensive intensity is felt. What came as a bit of a shock was his struggles from the perimeter, which was billed as a strength of his coming into his draft year. However, don’t expect that to be a continuing trend moving forward—Atkinson drew up plays last year that resulted in easy buckets for the 21-year-old Latvian, as his confidence grows so will his game.

Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson are still very raw in their development but both players are coming off really strong campaigns in the G-League and could serve as a welcoming surprise to Nets faithful this season.

So despite all the changes, there is still some continuity in the Nets roster moving forward. Last year they finished 34-22 after their rocky start, had they played at that pace throughout the entire season they would’ve finished with a 50-win campaign.

Of all the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, the Nets had the worst home record, sitting at 23-18. The Nets also had the worst attendance in the NBA, filling up 84.3 percent of their capacity for an average of 14’941 spectators at the Barclays Center in their home games.

However, that can be attributed to the lack of success this organization has had over the past few seasons. Going into next year there’s hype and anticipation surrounding the Brooklyn Nets; with a team that has a superstar in Irving, and semi-stars with LeVert and Dinwiddie, and a deep bench that is well-coached; the attendance woes from a season prior will turnaround.

That also means that despite a moderately lackluster home record, the Nets still finished above .500 and as a sixth seed—so they were respectable on the road. If they hover around the same record they finished with last year away from Barclays (19-22), or even surpass that mark from a season ago, 50 wins starts becoming more and more conceivable.

The Nets finished 14-14 on the road in their last 56 games last year, with the roster at hand it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility that they can finish next season sitting around .500 (barring injuries). Also, Kyrie Irving is amongst the best closers in the NBA, he has the capability of stealing a couple of road games late in the fourth quarter.

Last year the Nets finished 7th in the NBA in road attendance; they traveled well. With Kyrie Irving’s in-game theatrics and even Kevin Durant just being present on the bench, that should parlay into this upcoming season.

What really should be expected—and if the second half of last season serves as an indicator—is the Brooklyn Nets improving their home record from a season ago. After dropping 10 of their first 13 home games, the Nets went 20-8 in their remaining 28 played at the Barclays Center. Had they played like the latter for the entirety of the 18/19 campaign, that’s projected to a 28-13 home record.

As attendance rose when the Nets started winning, the team did a significantly better job in protecting their home court. A once seemingly tortured fan base has turned overwhelmingly optimistic about the future. There are no shortages of excitement surrounding the city, and the players will feed off the crowd—that 23-18 record will be improved upon.

Predictions on what level of success the Nets will have next year vary, depending on who you’re talking too. There shouldn’t be aspirations of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy June 2020, but falling to the 8th seed or completely out of the playoffs seems, well, far-fetched.

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This is a team that should place in the top-5 in the Eastern Conference and could even win a playoff series; this upcoming season you want and expect to see growth from the Nets’ secondary options, how Irving deals with the pressure from national media, and how this team deals with expectations of success. Then in the 2020/21 season with Kevin Durant fully healthy, winning a championship for the first time in franchise history is within their grasp.