You are what your record says you are, and make no mistake about it, and the Brooklyn Nets are a dreary 1-4 to begin their highly anticipated 2022-23 campaign.
Forgive me for leading off with an overused football quote, but after all, it’s one hell of a time to be a football fan in the Big Apple right now. At least New York sports has that going for itself as far as “starts to the season” go.
But with the Nets, their first few games offered us a great deal to unpack, most of which has been unpleasant. While Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving look like two samurais carving up their opponents each night, Ben Simmons looks like a shell of himself.
The team as a whole looks handicapped on both sides of the ball, presenting Steve Nash with another puzzle I doubt he has the chops to solve.
Negativity, negativity, negativity — it’s swelling around Brooklyn like a dark cloud. With the Nets being the “bad guys” of the NBA for some time now, major sporting league outlets have also been quick to rain down on the team, dropping insults and criticisms left and right.
After a rocky offseason, this feels like a nightmare scenario for Brooklyn. To be frank, I sympathize with anyone who feels this way. Given their aspirations and level of play from last year leading into this one, I doubt any fanbase has had a rougher, more disappointing experience watching the NBA than the Brooklyn faithful.
But alas, all storms eventually pass, and this one for Brooklyn has quite frankly been blown out of proportion.
Why brighter days are right around the corner for the Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn’s difficult schedule to open up the season resembles the most obvious reason to feel hopeful about the future. The Nets just played five playoff teams from last year in a row — something they will not do again for the rest of their entire season.
Two of those games came by way of a back-to-back involving travel. The Nets only have one more sequence of that sort for the entire year as well.
An argument can certainly be made that the Nets just played their most difficult stretch of the season. The NBA did a number on Brooklyn setting up their schedule this way, fully knowledgeable of how important it would be for them to start hot, but that’s neither here nor there.
But along with an easier workload on its way, the Nets will also re-vamp their team with some returning players. Over Brooklyn’s last two games, they missed a gross amount of wide-open triples. Currently shooting it from deep at a 32.1 percent clip, they rank fifth worst across the league.
The team desperately needs some shooting help and should get it in the shape of Seth Curry, who is likely to return sooner rather than later. Last year, Curry shot 42.2 percent from downtown, the fourth highest across the league amongst players with over 350 attempts.
Beyond that, the issue of chemistry also feels certain to be something solved with time. This mainly pertains to Simmons, who oftentimes looked lost in Brooklyn’s first few games.
Last night against the Dallas Mavericks, Ben10 gelled with Durant and Irving for a few sequences, even for an important one down the stretch of the game that helped force overtime. With Brooklyn’s supposed “big three” expected to carry so much of this team’s load, this was certainly the most encouraging thing we’ve seen from the team all week.
From a coaching standpoint, the Nets also seem to be taking the right steps with Simmons. For the first time all season, Brooklyn chose to not feature Simmons and Nic Claxton on the floor at the same time last night.
To put things bluntly, it worked. Brooklyn’s offense opened up with the added spacing, leading to more open jumpers. Coach Nash even said after the game that he plans to feature Simmons at the five more often going forward, cementing this concept as something to build on for the future.
This is a team that cannot afford moral victories, I’ve said this time and time again leading up to this season. But one would be shortsighted to dismiss these factors and only concentrate on the team’s 1-4 start.
Should the team drop both or even one of its upcoming games against the lottery-bound Pacers over the next few days, we can have a different conversation. But for now, tune out the noise Nets fans. Your team is about to turn the corner.