NOVEMBER 29, 2017 | ALEX LABIDOU
Injuries have unfortunately been the biggest storyline of the Nets’ 7-13 start, but there have been some positives that the team can build on in the second quarter of the season.
Here’s a Review of the Nets First 20 Games:
Most Valuable Player: DeMarre Carroll
While Carroll is averaging career highs in points (13.8) and rebounds (6.8), it is his intangibles that have been crucial for a young team trying to build a hard-working identity. Carroll leads by example as he refuses to give up on plays, which teammates like D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have praised in various interviews.
Breakout Player: Spencer Dinwiddie
The 24-year-old has made of the most of his expanded minutes to prove that he can be a valuable contributor in the NBA. Dinwiddie’s range and playmaking ability has likely secured him a spot in the starting lineup. He currently has the best assist to turnover ratio of qualified players in the NBA (5.5 to 1) and is shooting almost 40 percent from behind the arc. He’s also in the top 20 players in the league in Real Plus-Minus stats, according to ESPN.
Oh and his twitter game is on point as well…give that man a follow.
Top Newcomer: D’Angelo Russell
This is pretty obvious. Russell’s arrival signaled a new era for the Nets and he’s already shown in glimpses that he can be an elite player that the team was hoping for. While a knee injury has sidelined the former Buckeyes star right as he was rounding into form, his game against the Portland Trailblazers on Nov. 10 showcased how effective he can be when utilizing his versatility.
Russell didn’t have the best shooting night at the Moda Center, but finished with 21 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds. He had a plus-minus of +9 and hit the game-winner as well. The player has also embraced his new home to Brooklyn, being active in support of his teammates while out with injury.
Best Result of the Opening 20 Games: Nets beat Cavaliers 112-107 on Oct. 25
While there have definitely been more dramatic (Portland Nov. 10) and dominant (Hawks Oct. 22) wins, Brooklyn’s ‘next man up’ mentality really took shape as the legend of Dinwiddie emerged in its victory over the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
The Nets had to fill a massive void in the backcourt with Jeremy Lin suffering a season-ending injury and D’Angelo Russell sidelined. Coach Kenny Atkinson turned to Spencer Dinwiddie, who responded with a statement game – pouring in 22 points with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. The guard’s breakout performance was a credit to the culture built by Atkinson, which has seen a variety of players perform well when given more minutes.
Toughest Defeat: Nets lose to Trail Blazers 127-125 on Nov. 25
Brooklyn led 32-23 after the first quarter and appeared to be heading for a season sweep of Portland, but their interior defenders struggled to contain Jusuf Nurkic, who sparked a 12-4 run in the final two minutes to close out a win.
It was a frustrating result from the Nets, which was summed up well by Atkinson after the game:
“Tough loss,” he said. “Really tough loss.”
Brooklyn has impressed in several hustle stats, including contested shots (fifth) and loose balls recovered (tied for ninth). They also sit ninth in charges drawn and eighth in screen assists per game.
By Greg Logan
Updated November 30, 2017 7:51 PM
For some teams, an 8-13 record at the quarter pole of the NBA season might be disappointing, but for a Nets team coming off a 2-1 road trip minus two injured starters in victories at Memphis and Dallas, signs of progress are undeniable. It’s why coach Kenny Atkinson could joke about his team’s miserable 14 of 25 foul shooting in Wednesday’s 109-104 win over the Mavericks, even though it nearly cost the game.
“If you ask me about the free throws, I’m leaving,” Atkinson said upon arriving at the postgame interview in Dallas Wednesday night. Naturally, YES host Michael Grady responded, “So, about the free throws . . . ”
“如果你要问我关于罚球的事，我就走了，”阿特金森在周三晚达拉斯的赛后记者会，一到场就这么说。很自然的，YES的主持人Micheal Grady 回应道：“所以，关于罚球。。。”
The laughter reflected an upbeat mood for a team that won only eight games before New Year’s Day last season on the way to the NBA’s worst record. But even without injured starters Allen Crabbe (sore lower back) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (sprained ankle), the Nets won games over teams with worse records and played a very competitive game in losing at Houston, which has the NBA’s best record.
Reflecting on how young players like Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and point guard Spencer Dinwiddie have stepped up, Atkinson said, “I feel like we’re coming together as a group. When you have guys out, I think everybody realizes that anybody can contribute. Isaiah we called up from the G League. Caris and Joe are getting more minutes. That’s when a team starts to gain confidence. To me, it breeds unity and more camaraderie. That’s how teams start to get good, so I’m excited about that.”