After his first three seasons as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson has begun to hit his stride with the roster he’s put together. After a historic off-season, the rest of the league has officially been put on notice.
It wasn’t easy, but Brooklyn Net’s coach Kenny Atkinson has begun to transform a team that finished a season with just 20 wins and 62 losses two years ago, after an unwavering devotion to perimeter shooting. While the Nets have notably finished in the top five each of the last three seasons in three point attempts around the NBA, they finished just 26th in the league in total three point percentage in 2016-2017 (34.2 percent) and 20th in 2017-2018 (36.0 percent).
Fast forward to this previous season, and the Nets did still finish in the middle of the pack at 14th in the league (35.3 percent). However, with this came the emergence of fan favorite Joe Harris. While Joe’s success is indicative of his own work ethic, it’s also credited to Coach Atkinson’s development of his players.
2018-2019 saw Joe average a career high in; minutes played, field goals made and attempted, field goal percentage, three point percentage, rebounds per game, assists per game, and even points per game. There was clearly a lot of room to grow, and Kenny Atkinson was able to bring that out. Joe Harris has officially emerged as one of the most lethal perimeter shooters, even winning the 2019 Three Point Contest.
The Brooklyn Nets had been a struggling franchise for years, and Kenny didn’t exactly inherit the best situation. But after two losing seasons, the Nets started the 2018-2019 campaign on a brutal 8-18 record, losing six of those games by just five points or less.
Then the pace started to pick up.
The Nets quickly regained traction and won nine of their next ten games. It was a fairly consistent season in terms of inconsistencies, as Brooklyn would go on a three or four game losing streak, then a three or four game win streak, then rinse and repeat.
However through all of that, who was once a prodigy of Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, Kenny Atkinson was able to get the Nets ahead of the rebuild schedule and give fans what they wanted–a winning team. 42 wins and 40 losses, the Nets were able to see an All-Star talent in D’Angelo Russell, a sixth man of the year candidate in Spencer Dinwiddie, an emerging star in Jarrett Allen, and a top of the league perimeter shooter in Joe Harris.
Kenny Atkinson’s on-the-fly brilliance last season often went unnoticed, and by no stretch of the imagination is it conceivable to think that with the current notoriety Brooklyn has gained, maybe that talent will get some recognition. Will the Coach of the Year be in Brooklyn next season? It’s not impossible.
But Brooklyn just pulled off an impossible off-season, so maybe they aren’t done.