Nets Have Plenty Work Ahead In Rebuild

Russell could be the springboard for future success

The Brooklyn Nets endured another season of struggle in the NBA, claiming only 20 victories in the entirety of the campaign.

Kenny Atkinson arrived for the start of the term after being named as the permanent successor to Lionel Hollins, with Tony Brown leaving the club having served interim duties at the end of the 2015-16 season.

The club were without their first-round pick in the 2016 Draft after trading their selection away to the Boston Celtics. Therefore the Nets were forced to pursue free agents in their bid to improve their record.

Jeremy Lin and Trevor Booker were the two high-profile additions made by the club, but neither were able to make the drastic impact needed to send Brooklyn trending in the right direction.

Atkinson’s men built their fortunes around the performances of Brook Lopez, and although their captain had a solid statistical season, he lacked the support to even improve the club’s 21-win season from the previous term.

Bold decisions have been made to attempt to address the balance, with Lopez being traded away to the Los Angeles Lakers along with a first-round pick to acquire D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.

Whether this will be enough to reverse the fortunes of the struggling franchise – time will tell. We’ll now look back at the 2016-17 campaign of the Nets to determined what went so drastically wrong.

Problems From The Off

Lopez could not help his struggling side

The Nets were handed a tough opener on the road to the Celtics and were put on the back foot immediately as the home side were able to score with regularity at the TD Garden.

Bojan Bogdanovic kept his side in the contest with a 21-point performance, but it was not enough to stop his side from slipping to a five-point defeat. However, Atkinson’s men were able to get off the mark in their first home match of the campaign, overcoming the Indiana Pacers.

Off-season additions Lin and Booker played a vital role in the victory, while Lopez notched a 25-point outing to hand his side a comfortable 103-94 win. Two defeats on the bounce against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls put the pressure back on before the action became thick-and fast in November.

The month started well, with the club recording victories over the Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns as Lopez starred with two fine performances.

However, following their win over the Suns, Brooklyn lost their next seven matches, including hammerings at the ends of the LA Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sean Kilpatrick ended their dismal run, scoring 38 points and producing 14 assists in an overtime win over the Clippers at the end of November.

It was a rare moment of joy for the Nets as their December form would be even worse, winning only three of their 15 matches to all but end their playoffs hopes at the half-way stage.

Dismal Displays

Entering the new year at 9-24, Brooklyn would have thought that matters could only improve. However, their form in January and February would only deteriorate once again leaving them in a battle to reach a mark of some respectability in their overall record.

Atkinson’s men lost 11 matches on the spin from the end of December until the middle of January. This included heavy defeats at the hands of the Toronto Raptors and at home against the Houston Rockets, with the team having no answer for the quality of James Harden and the Rockets’ offense, conceding 137 points.

A victory on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans ended their losing streak as Lopez and Bogdanovic found their form in an impressive win. Once again the victory was only brief respite, with matters only getting worse towards the end of the month and February when the club failed to win a match.

Atkinson’s men lost 16 matches on the bounce, although at least a few of the contests were closely-fought, losing out by narrow margins to the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards in overtime.

The club appeared to be in jeopardy of beating their all-time franchise record for fewest wins in a season from the 2009-10 campaign. Lopez found his form to end the streak to defeat the Sacramento Kings on the road and a slight improvement towards the end of the season, led by the captain.

April provided the best run of results of the term for the Nets as the club won three matches on the spin, with Lopez top-scoring in victories against the Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers, guiding Brooklyn to the 20-win mark.

Possible Improvement

Russell could be the springboard for future success

The Nets are unlikely to stage a dramatic improvement in the 2017-18 campaign, with the gamble to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics looking worse by the season.

Both players were coming towards the end of their respective careers and the ammunition gained by the Celtics in the form of first-round draft picks has allowed them to retool their roster to become a force in the Eastern Conference.

General manager Billy King made that decision, which is still having consequences for the outfit even though King is no longer with the club. The new man in the hotseat, Sean Marks, has made an impact by trading away Lopez in the off-season to acquire Russell and Mozgov.

That move could well dictate if the Nets are able to shift themselves from the basement of the NBA, although the performances of Lopez last season were arguably one of the few positives to emerge from the campaign.

Mozgov has been a solid professional during his eight seasons in the NBA. He has experienced winning the crown with the Cavaliers in the 2015-16 season, but the Nets will need him to become more than the role player he has been over the last few terms.

Russell was the second-overall pick in the 2015 Draft and has at times flashed potential in his fledgling career, but Marks and Brooklyn need him to emerge as a superstar to reverse the fortunes of the franchise.

The club’s future does not look to bright at the moment, which is why their odds of +80000 to win the NBA Championship next season are long indeed, but for the price alone could be worth a small punt with SkyBet.

If you’re betting in the USA, check our guide to the best sportsbooks in the US here – https://www.sbo.net/country/us-sites/.