The Brooklyn Nets went into the preseason with just four games on their schedule. Following a 3-1 record in those games, the team lent some clarity to how the regular season might go.
New players and an extra year for the coaching staff should help Brooklyn improve upon its 20-62 record from last season.
Here are five other observations:
1. Grit and grind
The one hallmark of the Nets throughout the preseason: they played exceptionally hard. They simply outworked the New York Knicks on two occasions, and Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard remarked at halftime that his team “ha[d] to change their disposition” in the second half against the Nets. Translation: The Nets flat outworked them. That is a good attribute for any team to have.
2. D’Angelo Russell’s team
Jeremy Lin is the more effective player right, but Russell is the future of this franchise. His development is the most important plot line for Brooklyn in 2017-18. He will have no problem scoring points, but can he makes other players better and capably defend his position? Time will tell.
3. Jeremy Lin should come off the bench
Although it was a small sample size, Russell and Lin never quite meshed in the preseason. When one played well, the other didn’t. The long-term concern about the pairing comes on the defensive end. The Nets would be better served starting Caris LeVert or Allen Crabbe at the other guard position to help defend the perimeter. DeMarre Carroll and Crabbe are both above-average defenders on the wing, as is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Adding a defensive presence to the lineup will only help the future growth of the organization. While Lin might be better today, Russell is the future–so they should live with the growing pains at the position. Lin has also proven to be an exceptional sixth man.
4. Defense, defense…defense?
The Nets showed effort on the defensive end, but when they played a team embarking on a dress rehearsal for the regular season–the Philadelphia 76ers–the Nets had their doors blown off. Philly exploded for 112 points in three quarters, including 46 in the second quarter. Considering the Nets were cycling through all their rotation players, that is a bit of a concern.
5. Live and die by the three
When the Nets were making three-pointers this preseason, the offense flowed and the pace seemed like poetry in motion. When they failed to go down, the offense looked disjointed and the defense suffered. The Nets have a system–one that works, especially with better talent–but some nights it won’t look so hot. The others will have fans thinking playoffs. The team is likely somewhere in the middle.
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