Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Brooklyn Nets Season Preview

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NEW YORK, USA - JUNE 21: Dzanan Musa is seen after being selected number twenty-ninth overall by Brooklyn Nets during the 2018 NBA Draft in Barclays Center in New York, United States on June 21, 2018. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Going into year three of the Sean Marks rebuild has the Brooklyn Nets looking to further develop young players that Marks has found. There clearly is a lack of top-flight talent on this roster but there are players that can be good in the NBA. Last year, Jarrett Allen showed he has the potential to be a solid center moving forward, and Spencer Dinwiddie was in the conversation for Most Improved Player. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continues to improve his offensive game as well. Joe Harris picked up where he left off after the 2016-17 season. There is finally hope that the Nets can become a good team and move up from the bottom of the NBA standings. Here’s a look at the 2018-19 Brooklyn Nets Season Preview.

Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Brooklyn Nets Season Preview

What Worked Last Season

With a roster that lacked top-level talent, not much worked well. The Nets were average on offense, ranking fourteenth in the NBA, scoring 106.6 points per game.  The one thing that did work was coach Kenny Atkinson’s ability to help players grow and develop. Harris and Dinwiddie, both of whom could not make the roster on their previous teams, have excelled under Atkinson. Allen and Jefferson have also flourished giving the Nets good reason to be optimistic moving forward.

What Needs Improvement

The defense is by far the Nets biggest struggle. The Nets allowed 110.3 points per game, the third to most in the NBA. The biggest problem on defense was guarding the paint. Teams scored an average of 47.8 points in the paint. Only the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers gave up more points in the paint per game. Ed Davis brings a toughness to the game that should help the teams defense near the basket. However, the challenge lies at the feet of Allen to become a rim protector and a force on the defensive end of the floor.

Secondly, the Nets have to start cutting down on their turnovers. They were among the five worst teams at giving the ball away, averaging 15.2 turnovers per game. D’Angelo Russell projects to be the main ball handler, therefore the responsibility is on Russell to run the offense smoothly and efficiently.

Another area that can use some improvement is the teams three point shooting percentage. Atkinson had them shooting an average of 35.7 three-point shots a game, second to only the Houston Rockets at 41.9. The problem was they only made 35.6 percent of the three-point shots they attempted. In terms of shooting percentage, they were in the bottom third of the league.

Off-Season Changes

Brooklyn brought back Harris on a two-year, $16 million deal. During the 2017-18 season, Harris shot 41.9 percent from three-point territory while attempting 4.6 threes per game. Brooklyn also signed Davis to a one year deal. His 14.1 rebounds per 36 minutes will definitely help the Nets cleaning up possessions. The Nets also signed Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier. Graham is a good shooter and can defend multiple positions, and Napier played well off the bench for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Marks has scouted a lot of players from overseas and drafted two of them this off-season. Dzanan Musa was selected with the 29th pick, and Rodions Kurucs with the 40th pick. They both are likely to be projects, without being expected to contribute immediately, but they should get some playing time.

Jeremy Lin, a 2025 second-round pick, and the right to swap second-round picks in 2023 were all traded to the Atlanta Hawks for a future second-round pick and the rights to Isaia CordinierTimofey Mozgov was sent to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Dwight Howard. Consequently, the Nets bought Howard out. The Nets also sent Isaiah Whitehead to Denver for a 2019 protected first-round pick (picks 1-12), an unprotected 2020 second-rounder, Kenneth Faried, and Darrell Arthur.

Arthur was subsequently traded to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley and a protected 2021 second-round pick. Dudley provides the Brooklyn roster with a veteran stretch four which is something they did not have in the 2017-18 season.

2018-19 Season Prediction

Last season it was predicted that Brooklyn would win 36 games. However, the win total was not the only indicator of a successful season. The main indicator was and continues to be player development and maintaining roster flexibility for the 2019 season. The Nets do not have the talent to compete for a playoff spot, nonetheless, they do have the ability to show people they are trending in the right direction. They can prove to other players in the league that the culture is good, in hopes to lure one in. Overall this group is good enough to win between 32 and 38 games. They improved eight games from the 2016-17 season and finished twelfth in the Eastern Conference. After all is said and done, the Nets will improve from last year and win 35 games.

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