The Nets’ Turnaround
When Caris LeVert went down with one of the more gruesome injuries in recent memory, it felt like the Nets’ season was certainly over. In the 14 games prior to dislocating his foot, LeVert looked like a star in the making, averaging 18.4 points (PPG), 4.3 rebounds (RPG) and 3.7 assists per game (APG) on 47.5% shooting, all in less than 30 minutes per game. At that point in the season, Brooklyn’s record was just 6-8, and it seemed as though their best option would be to tank given that one of their key contributors was injured indefinitely.
Despite the poor outlook for the team, they not only stayed afloat, but thrived without LeVert. The Nets are 18-15 over their last 33 games in his absence, and currently sit at sxith in the Eastern Conference with a respectable 24-23 record. While one-game game above .500 record is not normally impressive, for a team that won just 28 games last season and is down one of their young stars this year, the team’s turnaround is commendable. Through impressive team composition and significant development of their young talent, the Nets look like a surefire playoff team, albeit in a weak Eastern Conference.
Although the Nets lack a bonafide superstar, and no player on the team averages more than 20 PPG, this is mostly because no player averages more than 30 MPG. Using per 36 stats, D’Angelo Russell averages 22.6 PPG and Spencer Dinwiddie puts up 21.5 PPG. On most nights, the Nets trot out a 10 player rotation that is primarily young talent with a mix of veteran leadership from guys like DeMarre Carroll and Ed Davis. Among players who have suited up for Brooklyn this year, the team’s average age is just over 25, and just two players on the roster are older than 30. With the level of talent and young age of those currently on the roster, the Nets’ future is promising.
On most nights, the Nets look to Russell and Dinwiddie to carry the offensive load, and both have stepped up massively since LeVert’s injury. Prior to LeVert going down, Russell averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.1 APG and 3.6 RPG on 41.3% shooting, and Dinwiddie averaged 13.9 PPG, 4.1 APG and 2.4 RPG on 47.3% from the field. Since then, Russell is putting up 19.3 PPG, 6.9 APG and 3.9 RPG with a FG% of 43.6%, and Dinwiddie is putting up 18.4 PPG, 5.5 APG and 2.5 RPG on 45.6% shooting.
To complement the scoring and distributing abilities of the two guards, the Nets rely heavily on penetration to attract multiple defenders, three point shooting to effectively space the floor and strong offensive
rebounding to facilitate second chance opportunities. Both Dinwiddie and Russell currently rank in the top 25 in drives per game, and as a team, Brooklyn is fifth in three-pointers made per game, sixth in three pointers attempted per game and seventh in offensive rebounds per game. Brooklyn’s star backcourt’s elite driving ability forces both creates easy buckets, and forces teams to collapse to contest the easy two. This creates open looks for three point snipers like Joe Harris, whose three point percentage of 47% ranks third in the NBA. Even when the Nets miss, prolific rebounders like Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis corral board after board to keep the Nets’ possessions alive.
The Nets’ performance is extremely impressive considering where the team was just a few years ago. In 2016, General Manager Sean Marks inherited a team that previously traded away four consecutive first round picks for an aged Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and despite the Net’s lack of draft picks in recent years, Marks still managed to create a solid young core. The future is bright for a team that has dwelled at the bottom for the last few seasons, and they appear to be just a significant free agent signing or trade away from becoming true contenders in the East.
Featured image courtesy of netsdaily.com
“From Our Haus to Yours”