5 Happy Thoughts for Brooklyn Nets Fans
While the situation is dire, there are still some silver linings for Nets fans, who are grasping at straws for good news.
A season that began with championship aspirations (and expectations) has spiraled into a nightmarish campaign and a 5-14 record. First-year head coach Jason Kidd has looked completely inept, veteran players are losing the battle with Father Time, and the defense has been putrid.
So what's the good news in Brooklyn?
You have to do some digging and look at the glass as half-full, but Nets fans can still have a positive outlook.
5. Defensive Changes
By allowing 103.4 points per game, the Brooklyn Nets rank 29th in the NBA from a defensive standpoint. Preventing opponents from putting the ball in the hoop has been a struggle for Brooklyn, but changes are forthcoming to try and fix that glaring issue.
Lawrence Frank—the Nets assistant coach who was recently reassigned to “doing daily reports”—was seen as the defensive-minded guy on the sidelines. Now that he’s no longer beside Coach Kidd on the bench, a new system has been implemented.
“We have a new system, we’re changing things on the fly,” Kevin Garnett said after the Nets’ blowout loss against the Knicks, according to Devin Kharpertian of TheBrooklynGame.com. “Jason’s putting in a lot of new stuff since Lawrence has left."
Despite those changes, the Nets allowed the Knicks to shoot a blistering 16-of-27 from long range (59.3 percent). Iman Shumpert drained five of seven attempts, and seven other Knicks made at least one long-range shot.
Obviously, the new defensive schemes that Kidd is trying to execute are a work in progress. With that said, the Nets can’t possibly be worse than they’ve already been defensively, right?
Hmm, so maybe handing Kidd the keys to the Nets defense won’t allow fans to breathe easy, but there are still other happy thoughts to get to.
4. Still Time to Get Healthy
The Nets are occupying the Eastern Conference cellar. The only team with a worse record is the Milwaukee Bucks. Although that’s depressing news for Nets fans, injuries have devastated the roster so far in 2013-14.
Deron Williams—the team’s floor general and most important player—has only played nine games this season.
Andrei Kirilenko has experienced back problems, Jason Terry’s knee has kept him out, and Paul Pierce recently suffered a broken hand. That doesn’t even mention Brook Lopez, who has a long history of injury troubles and has played just 12 games so far.
Any team would have a hard time winning games with that level of talent watching from the sidelines. The good news is that the Nets shouldn’t be short-handed for long.
D-Will is reportedly making his return to game action on Tuesday, according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York. That’s phenomenal news for the reeling Nets.
As you may recall, Williams also had a painfully slow start to the 2012-13 season, but he turned things around as the season went along. Don’t be surprised if the same narrative plays out in 2013-14 as he gets acclimated to a new supporting cast.
3. Shaun Livingston's Comeback
After suffering one of the most gruesome injuries that sports fans have ever seen in 2007 with the Los Angeles Clippers, Shaun Livingston didn't seem like he would ever play in the NBA again.
Fast-forward to 2013-14, and the 28-year-old is playing an important role on the Nets.
He’s averaging 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists versus just 1.2 turnovers per game. Not only that, but he’s also one of just four Nets who have appeared in every game this season (seven starts).
Unless you don’t have a heart, it’s impossible not to cheer for Livingston every time he takes the court.
The Nets have had a bad season, but he is a walking Cinderella story.
2. Beautiful and Exciting Arena
In an October article, Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal ranked the “ultimate NBA fan experiences.” The Brooklyn Nets ended up ranking 10th even though the affordability of attending games isn’t very favorable (It is New York, after all).
The biggest reason for that was the beautiful Barclays Center.
As Fromal writes, “No stadium is more aesthetically appealing. Other than the extreme darkness in some areas of the stadium, it’s perfect.” Needless to say, that’s not too shabby.
The exterior of the building is beautiful, and aside from some interior issues with lighting, the new arena is a true gem.
Attending basketball games should always feel like an event, and Brooklyn captures that atmosphere.
1. Eastern Conference Leaves Playoff Door Open
Despite the slew of injuries, poor coaching, lack of team chemistry and 5-14 record to start the 2013-14 campaign, the Nets are not out of the playoff hunt.
While a 5-14 start would be a death sentence in the loaded Western Conference, the East only has three teams with a winning record: the Indiana Pacers (17-2), Miami Heat (14-5) and Atlanta Hawks (11-10).
Miraculously, the Nets are only four games back of the No. 5 seed Detroit Pistons.
The conference has gained plenty of negative publicity in recent weeks, but the Nets benefit from the mediocrity.
The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers plodded through a 9-14 start and still managed to make the playoffs by getting things together late in the season. The Nets have plenty of time to do the same.
Of course, if they don't, they don't have any draft picks to fall back on. Brooklyn fans need to hope Coach Kidd has at least a few tricks up his sleeve to morph the talent into a cohesive unit.