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Brooklyn Nets Exit Interviews: Three Takeaways

The Nets closed out the 2018-19 season on Tuesday night

The Brooklyn Nets concluded the 2018-19 season on Tuesday night after winning 42 games — their most since 2014 — and returning to the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2015. They met at HSS Training Center on Wednesday, and here are three key topics about the franchise from the players’ exit interviews.

JARRETT ALLEN, A KEY TO THE FUTURE

In the locker room in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, Jared Dudley offered up the opinion that the just-turned-21-year-old center Jarrett Allen was “the key” to Nets success down the line. It’s something he reiterated on Thursday afternoon.

“Jarrett Allen is the key,” said Dudley. “He’s the key ‘cause he’s the foundation. He blocks the shots, he’s (catching) the drop-offs and so he’s the one that’s going to give you 18 points without even calling a play in his level.”

Allen started all 80 games he played in his second pro season, averaging 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 59 percent.

“I’m going to grade myself in the mid-range,” said Allen. “I didn’t wanna grade myself too high or grade myself too low. I just know I have a lot more to go, I know I have a lot of progress I still can make. I think I’m on the upward trend.”

Center Ed Davis joined the Nets this season and filled a mentorship role with Allen while teaming up to give Brooklyn a reliable center pairing that combined for 17.0 rebounds per game.

“I’ve been seeing it all year,” said Davis. “I believe highly in JA. I think that he should be borderline All-Star center in the near future. He’s got some things that he needs to work on. You know he just turned 21. I know a lot of y’all give him a hard time, but I think he’s going to have a hell of a career.”

MAKING AN IMPRESSION ON NEW NETS VETS

Spencer Dinwiddie described playing for the Nets as a “fairy tale experience,” and his praise for the organization was echoed by two veterans who came to Brooklyn for the first time last summer after moving around the league a bit.

“You never get to know about an organization until you actually play for it,” said Jared Dudley. “First thing I noticed, getting traded, when you have your GM sending flowers to your wife and your mother and just more athletic gear of just wanting to be a part of a family and what they did training camp, it was very rare. I’ve actually never had that when it comes to just being, including the family members when it came to that. And then just the culture they brought here. I think for one it starts with the training staff. I think they have 30 people on staff, which on most NBA teams is six or seven. You get it from all over.”

The Nets acquired Dudley in a summer trade with the Phoenix Suns, becoming his sixth franchise over 12 seasons. Ed Davis came as a free agent, making stop No. 5 in Brooklyn after three successful playoff seasons in Portland.

Davis said he didn’t initially have those same expectations for the Nets, but in addition to the team’s surprising success, he was impressed by the way the franchise was run.

“This is a top-notch organization,” said Davis. “They run everything right from top to bottom. They take care of you. They say family and they stand by that.”

“The word is out,” said Dudley. “People know about it. People know how good Kenny (Atkinson) and Sean Marks are and what they’ve done to develop this culture.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

It’s a short window between looking back and looking forward at the end of an NBA season, so there was plenty of focus Thursday afternoon on the future of current, and potential future, Nets.

After his All-Star season, guard D’Angelo Russell is eligible for restricted free agency this summer. He said he’s looking forward to the experience, but also mentioned his comfort level in Brooklyn, saying, “I definitely want to be here.”

“I don’t know any other teams, I don’t know any other GMs or coaches,” said Russell. “I don’t know any of those people. I know where I’m at. So it definitely gives you that advantage.”

The veterans Ed Davis, Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll will all be free agents, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will, like Russell, be a restricted free agent after his fourth season.

The Nets took a giant step forward this season with 42 wins and a playoff berth, doubling their win total of just two seasons ago and returning to the playoffs after a three-year absence. In doing so, they elevated their profile and perception around the league.

“We all hope that we put our best foot forward this season and obviously for free agents and for our own free agents, enticing them to come back,” said Spencer Dinwiddie. “We have a bunch of those guys as well. As an organization, we just want to keep winning games. And keep taking the next step of growth.”

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