Nets Season Preview
By Cory Wright
New coach. New team. New season.
After a summer of change, the Brooklyn Nets tip off their season on Wednesday night in Boston. There’s a different look and feel to the Nets this season, who are adopting a brand-new offense to go along with 10 new additions, headlined by Jeremy Lin. They’ve gone younger. They’ve gone grittier and they have been putting in work all summer. Been out of the loop? Get prepared for the season with the Brooklyn Nets season premiere.
INTRODUCING THE MOTION OFFENSE:
You’re going to see a different Brooklyn Nets team this season.
It’s not just that the personnel is vastly different, with a new coach and 10 new players, but with the influx of a new basketball philosophy, the style of play on the court will be different, too.
The Nets are shifting away from the iso-offense that characterized the team over the past couple of seasons and replacing it with a motion offense, with a heavy emphasis on 3-pointers. The Nets attempted the third-most 3-pointers in the preseason (33.7 per game) and their signings – Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Joe Harris and Justin Hamilton – reflect the shift in strategy.
Returnees Bojan Bogdanovic and Sean Kilpatrick should benefit from the new emphasis on perimeter shooting, but everyone – including Brook Lopez – has the green light and is expected to take the open shots.
JEREMY LIN LEADS NETS:
Jeremy Lin was brought in to be the guy for the Brooklyn Nets this season, taking over the role as the number one point guard, as well as one of the leaders of the team. Reunited with Kenny Atkinson, who coached him back when they were with the New York Knicks, Lin will be Atkinson’s floor general and the offense is going to run through him.
While the Nets are going to be looking for the open shot, Lin has put in more than a year reworking his, looking to get his jumper off lower and quicker. He said he went through the growing pains last year, but the muscle memory and repetition have taken hold, as Lin averaged 17.2 points in 23 minutes during the preseason, shooting 61.9% from the field and 50% from deep.
He’s a dual threat, a capable shooter from beyond the arc, but also able to drive to the hole. The 28-year-old said numerous times that he’s focused on making the right play, so the Nets can expect to see different versions of their point guard, depending what the defenses are giving him.
Either way, Lin will be an important piece – if not the most important piece – in the Nets lineup this season.
NEXT STEP FOR RONDAE:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a defensive difference-maker for the Nets last season, but his rookie year was cut short by a broken ankle. The athletically-gifted, 21-year-old had the Nets’ best defensive rating last season (103), but now he has a partner on the floor in Trevor Booker, someone who he can also learn from.
What you can’t teach is Rondae’s heart, and he takes his defensive role seriously.
“It kind of has to be within you, to have some pride and just go out there and compete at the end of the day. You say to yourself ‘Hey, I don’t want this guy to score on me this easy,’ ” he said. “For me, I take pride in that, saying ‘When I had to score on Rondae, I had to work for that.’ Or just making it tough for him.”
Hollis-Jefferson pretty much spent his entire summer at HSS Training Center, retooling his jumper, but he’s most valuable to the Nets as a defensive stopper. It’ll be interesting to see how he builds on his rookie year and how a full season impacts the Nets defense.
DEVELOPING THE YOUNG TALENT:
The Nets are a young team this season, with five players 23 and younger and only two players – Luis Scola and Randy Foye – over 30. The goal is to have the veterans – a group that includes experienced players like Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin and Trevor Booker – guide the young guys, but that also extends to Nets in their mid-20s like Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris, who don’t have much NBA experience.
“The veterans just being there for us, giving their little insights, talking to us, [they’ve gone through] a lot of this, going through their seven, 10 years in the NBA,” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. “Just them being able to talk to us, give us their feedback on what they went through. It helps us a lot.”
IT’S ABOUT PROGRESS:
“The season won’t be measured entirely by wins and losses. It’ll be measured by the progress that’s made throughout the season and the buy-in from our players.”
That’s the message from General Manager Sean Marks, who is preaching progress and patience this season. It’s not that wins and losses don’t matter; they’re playing the long game with the Nets. He hired a coach with a player development background in Kenny Atkinson, traded for first-rounder Caris LeVert, and brought in players who fit the coach’s system and the style of play in today’s NBA.
Marks said he wants to see improvement from game-to-game and week-to-week and that’s how he plans on evaluating the season. It’s the right plan, not the right-now plan.