The Brooklyn Nets franchise is in a very tough spot. After losing to their in-city rivals, the New York Knicks, 121-102 on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn dropped to ninth in the Eastern Conference standings and fell below .500 (13-14) on the season.
Brooklyn's current record and place in the Eastern Conference standings reflect where they are as a franchise: stuck in the middle. Being in the middle is the worst place in professional sports. Brooklyn cannot win a championship or get an early draft pick to get a blue-chip talent.
That sounds bleak, but all Brooklyn and Sean Marks need to do to find inspiration is look across the East River.
The New York Knicks have become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in recent seasons and have a massively bright future. Like Brooklyn currently, New York did not have a superstar on the roster when their rise began.
Despite being linked to nearly every superstar that has come available on the roster, the Knicks have yet to acquire one. That's likely why they are in the position they are today. The Knicks signed two role plays, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, and developed them into all-star caliber players.
Knicks' General Manager Leon Rose has held onto their young players instead of trading them for a star. Those players, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and Quentin Grimes, are massive reasons why the Knicks are now contenders.
They have taken the opposite approach that the Nets took when they gutted their roster to acquire James Harden to form the ultimate superteam. Would Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been better positioned to win a title with Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen than with James Harden? It's crazy to say, but they probably would've been, and they would still own a lot more of their own draft picks.
Like the Knicks, the Nets have two players, Cam Thomas and Mikal Bridges (who needs to play better), who can become all-stars. Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Nic Claxton are all talented young players. To get into the tier the Knicks are currently, Brooklyn needs to continue to add to this core, draft well, develop, and make shrewd signings.
They should by no means gut this roster in pursuit of a star, at least not yet. The Knicks probably aren't true championship contenders until they acquire a top-10\15 NBA player, but they have laid the groundwork to be able to do that and not gut their roster. Sean Marks should follow the same blueprint.