The future is very bright for the Brooklyn Nets

Kenny Atkinson Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Kenny Atkinson Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After a surprisingly proficient campaign last year followed by a summer filled with fireworks, the Brooklyn Nets now face a variety of new challenges as we enter the next decade.

Just treading water around the .500 mark with roughly three months of play already behind them, judging the ceiling for the Brooklyn Nets this season continues to loom over the team’s fan base as an increasingly difficult task.

With Kevin Durant certain to sit this year out, everyone in Brooklyn knows the team’s endgame will come not this year, but during those following it. However, the Nets cannot join Durant and just wait around for his Achilles to heal in preparation for a future title run. Instead, they continue to play on in a season consequently lacking any real pressure to succeed, yet oddly enough still maintaining a fierce competitive spirit.

Although a recent loss to the New York Knicks might suggest otherwise, the Nets, for the most part, continue to overachieve in a fashion similar to last year when they surprised the league by surging into the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

However, towering hurdles poised to limit the team’s success such as Durant’s absence, as well as stud point guard Kyrie Irving‘s own injury woes suggests that the basketball gods have other plans for Brooklyn’s fate this year.

Fighting against the odds, Spencer Dinwiddie has kept the team afloat by averaging 25.6 points and 7.2 assists per game while maintaining a 43.3 shooting percentage since stepping into Irving’s role as the starting point guard.

Following the example set by Dinwiddie, teammate Jarrett Allen also continues to exceed expectations, now averaging a double-double for the first time in his career.

We’ve also seen Brooklyn make steady improvements with their team play during these first few months.

After consistently illustrating an inability to defend at a playoff-caliber level, especially when guarding against the pick and roll, the Nets turned things around this month and posted the third-highest defensive net rating in the league. Although some offensive struggles indeed came at the expense of this defensive renaissance in Brooklyn, Kenny Atkinson’s ability to recognize the team’s flaws and make any necessary improvements certainly warrants further hope for the squad.

However, a top tier coach with only two players who are good, but not great at his disposal will only get you so far. Behind Dinwiddie and Allen, contributions from Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, and Taurean Prince, who all combine for a fair 37.5 points per contest, leave the team as a middle of the pack club, as one might expect.

Aside from this, injuries to starting shooting guard Caris LeVert and bench piece David Nwaba have forced Atkinson to throw unproven youngsters Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs extra minutes, who despite some occasional outbursts of excellence, more often than not display inconsistencies that somewhat negate Dinwiddie and Allen’s remarkable play.

Nonetheless, just staying alive as a potential playoff team should warrant both satisfaction and optimism going forward for Brooklyn fans amidst all the talent currently handcuffed with health concerns.

Just imagining today’s already above-average roster allied with the star power that awaits should allow the Brooklyn faithful to brush off losses to teams such as the New York Knicks or Minnesota Timberwolves with ease.

For the time being though, this team definitely remains outside the upper echelon of the NBA, but that is right where they should be given their circumstances.

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