5 Ways Brooklyn Nets Can Establish Cohesive Team Identity
When the New Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn, New York, it was more than just a change of location. The Nets had moved to a borough built on pride, which in turn created a new identity for the team as a whole.
The question is, how exactly can the Nets establish this cohesive team identity?
Thus far, the Nets are doing well at maintaining forms of momentum. This comes by virtue of their creating streaks when they win and doing the same when they lose.
An establishment of team identity would certainly cure those woes. So what are the proper steps to take to create just that?
You're about to find out.
5. Keep on Firing
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Thus far in 2012-13, the Brooklyn Nets rank ninth in the NBA in three-point field goals made per game at 7.8. They also rank 23rd in three-point field goal percentage at .341.
So should they stop putting up threes? Absolutely not.
Joe Johnson, a career 36.8 percent three-point shooter, is down to .354 in 2012-13. Deron Williams, a career 34.8 percent shooter from distance, sits at .287.
In other words, the Nets are only shooting this poorly because their stars are underperforming. Don't bank on that continuing.
As the season progresses, Johnson, Williams, C.J. Watson and company will turn things around from a percentage stance.
As a result, the Nets will become that much more difficult to defend on the perimeter. They'll also space the floor for Brook Lopez to go to work on the interior, thus continuing to lead the team in scoring.
Fire at will, Brooklyn.
4. Commit to the Glass
The Brooklyn Nets are a team whose statistical performances are not reflective of the caliber players on their roster. By that, of course, I'm referring to their ineptitude on the glass.
Even with Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche on the roster, the Nets rank 15th in rebounds per game.
Evans presently ranks first in the NBA with 20.0 rebounds per 48 minutes. Blatche sits at 12th at 15.8 per 48, while Humphries ranks 15th at 15.5.
Even still, the Nets can't crash the boards. Look no further than the man who would be elite, by today's standards, if he could contribute in said area: Brook Lopez.
Lopez continues to be a non-factor on the glass, pulling down 6.8 rebounds per game despite averaging 29.7 minutes. Evans and Humphries, meanwhile, average 8.1 apiece despite playing 19.5 and 25.1 minutes, respectively.
Even Blatche averages 6.6 boards in 20.1 minutes.
If the Nets want to develop a team identity, it all starts on the glass. Most specifically, it all starts with Lopez buying in to Evans and Humphries' style of play.
He needs to stop throwing his arms up and asking for offensive fouls when he gets boxed out. Instead, Lopez should push right back, gain position and pull down the boards.
Lopez has the body for it, so where are the results?
3. Embrace the Hate; Be the Bully
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If we've learned anything about Gerald Wallace, it's that he's as good as any player in the league at getting under an opponent's skin. The same can be said about Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche and Keith Bogans.
So why not have the whole team buy into that approach?
The key to the 1989 and 1990 Detroit Pistons was their ability to do just that. Each player was not only a defensive specialist, but the type of person who didn't care about media or fan perception.
It was about winning at all costs and nothing else. They succeeded in winning consecutive titles.
That is the mindset that the Nets must buy into as a whole. As Wallace, Evans and company go, the rest of the team must follow.
The Nets have the potential to be the "Bad Boys" of the NBA. Will they live up to that reputation?
2. Hold Each Other Accountable
If we've learned anything from the Los Angeles Lakers' early-season debacle, it's that everyone seems to have an excuse.
All this has created is an even deeper hole that L.A. can't escape. Hold yourself accountable and you'll make it out safe.
Something that Deron Williams has learned.
A stance the entire Nets team should take.
"Y’all not going to bring me down today by asking these questions," Williams said after practice Saturday. "We’re positive. You guys could be negative. The papers can be negative. We don’t give a [expletive]. We don’t care."
"We lost three in a row. We won five in a row, we just lost three in a row. We need to get back to winning. We need to get back to playing defense. We have to do what makes us successful. We haven’t been doing that the last three games. We saw it in the film. We need to change it. It’s on us to change it. We can blame Avery [Johnson]. We can’t blame Mario [Elie]. We can’t blame Popeye [Jones). We can’t blame Billy [King]. We can’t blame Mr. Prokhorov. We can’t blame you [Bondy]. We can’t blame the fans."
Whether you approve of the cursing and lashing out is one thing. What you can't disagree with, however, is Williams' stance of holding himself and his teammates accountable.
Underachievers should take notes.
1. Selflessly Find the Hot Hand
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The most common misconception about the NBA is that the only option during crunch time is finding your star player. Although that has worked out before, there is one approach which breeds even greater results.
Find the hot hand and stick with it.
The key to the Miami Heat's success in 2011-12 was just that. They abandoned their star mentalities and played selfless basketball and looked to whomever was shooting the ball well.
Whether that was LeBron James and the Big Three or Shane Battier and the sharpshooters.
This is the approach the Nets have been taking through three quarters. For whatever reason, they leave it behind during the fourth.
It's why Andray Blatche is averaging 18.4 points and 11.2 rebounds over his past four games, but has been nowhere to be found during the final quarter of play.
The Nets must embrace the plethora of facilitators this team possesses. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, MarShon Brooks and C.J. Watson all fit that billing.
So why not allow them to dictate the pace instead of forcing them into late-game isolation sets? It'll breed more consistent success.