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The Mystery of the Brooklyn Nets

What the hell is going on in Brooklyn? Where is the foundation within their team and organization? What is the plan for the future for the Nets? Hell, what is their plan for the here and now? From my observations, they don’t have a clear foundation set in place at all. They have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which makes people automatically write them in as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference next season, but I beg to disagree.

As excellent as KD and Kyrie are, they do not have a properly constructed roster around them that fits to both of their playstyles. Kevin Durant, who was a great defender prior to his achilles injury, will not be the same on the defensive end. It is just that simple.

He is bound to lose a lot of his lateral quickness and explosiveness that helps him tremendously on that end. The ideal plan would be to invest in more perimeter defenders or 3&D players. This will help offset Durant’s defensive decline and could provide extra cushioning on the offensive end when Durant is on the bench.

However, the Nets aren’t taking the logical route and instead they are investing in more isolation scorers. More isolation scorers aren’t needed especially when you have the two best isolation scorers in the sport on your team in KD and Kyrie. You need more players like Joe Harris (currently on the roster) who can score without having the ball stuck to him.

They recently signed both Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley; both of whom are iso scorers. Crawford or Beasley will most likely be on the roster next year, so they’ve added another iso scorer to a mix of iso scorers. The Nets have also been in trade talks for Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. On paper, a trade for Beal would make the Nets look unbeatable but in reality, would that really be the case?

In a hypothetical acquisition of Bradley Beal, the Nets will lose a lot of cap space, as Beal would take up a lot of the salary cap, and they won’t have the money to go get the perimeter defenders they desperately need.

Their backcourt defense with Kyrie and Beal would be horrendous as both are below average defenders and Beal simply does not fit with the team because he is another isolation scorer who will take up a lot of shot attempts at a high usage rate. What seems good on paper isn’t always good in reality.

Next, who the hell is going to be their head coach? They mutually parted ways with Kenny Atkinson midway through this season. Atkinson was key to building the culture that swayed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to sign with the Nets, but over the course of the season, they had a change of heart and didn’t feel the same way about him.

His position is currently being taken on by Jacque Vaughn, who had a 58-158 (.269) win-loss record as the head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2012 to midway through the 14-15 season when he was fired. So ideally, you wouldn’t want to have Jacque Vaughn as your head coach especially when you have two superstars and are aiming to win the NBA Championship next season.

So, let us take a look at more ideal candidates. Tom Thibodeau is an established NBA head coach who has had success in the past with stars like Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Karl-Anthony Towns. His rigorous, defensive-oriented approach would be perfect for a Nets team that doesn’t have many good defenders outside the paint. He also has connections with Durant and Irving from his time with USA Basketball.

However, the approach he has while coaching has been detrimental to superstars such as Derrick Rose, who had a late game injury in a 2012 playoff game he shouldn’t have still been playing in. The game was out of reach, yet Thibs still kept him in the game.

His career has never been the same since that moment and that is frankly on the shoulders of Tom Thibodeau not managing his minutes wisely. For a team whose two main superstars are very injury-prone and are coming off season-ending injuries, hiring Thibodeau might not be the best plan of action.

Another ideal option is Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. She has been groomed under arguably the greatest coach of all time in Gregg Popovich since 2014, so she is accustomed to winning basketball. If her approach is anything similar to that of Gregg Popovich, it will be a style that involves a lot of passing and team-oriented basketball, and although that approach is great, it doesn’t work everywhere.

I don’t believe that style would work in Brooklyn with so many isolation scorers, but it can work elsewhere especially in a rebuilding situation like the New York Knicks. Although Hammon and the Nets may find success together, their styles of play with her coaching approach combined with the fact that she is inexperienced as a head coach and there are many veterans on the Nets may not be the best fit.

The best fit is a players’ coach who has championship experience and has had positive experiences in the past with players on the roster. That perfectly defines Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue. Lue led the Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, and he accomplished that alongside current Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

In 3 years with the Cavs, he had a 128-77 (.624) record along with 3 consecutive NBA Finals appearances before he was fired after 6 consecutive losses to start the season in his 4th year. 

Alongside Lue’s obvious success, he is also well known for managing locker room emotions. In an interview with cleveland.com about Lue, former Cavs guard Mo Williams described Lue’s straight forward approach by saying,

“‘I really appreciate that, and it’s very important because you’re not playing, so obviously it’s a different focus, a different emotional level…A lot of coaches just don’t know how to communicate, so therefore they don’t and it causes different problems. The better you communicate with your players, it goes with years in the league.’”

Players on the Nets such as Kyrie Irving and at times Kevin Durant have been labeled as a bad locker room presence, but maybe with Lue’s guidance, that won’t be as big of a problem if that is indeed the case. It also gives those superstars more luxury with what they want to do on the court.

Despite how ideal and realistic all of that sounds, don’t be surprised if none of that happens. The entire Nets organization is a mystery that everyone is trying to crack. However, when you dive deeper into that mystery, you realize it is extremely easy to crack. They don’t know what they’re doing, they have no foundation they want to build on for the future, and they have no plans as of right now to win an NBA championship. It is just that simple.


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