The ABCs of Thanksgiving
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought it might be worthwhile to look at the ABCs of the Brooklyn Nets just under one month into the season. Sure, it’s been rough, at times, and unfortunate, of course, that Jeremy Lin has missed so much time already — but with a renewed future, plenty of young pieces, and (gasp!) a new D-League squad, there’s reason to believe things are on the up in Brooklyn.
More or less, there’s plenty to be thankful for today, so open up your mind, eat some turkey, and reflect on the wild six months that has been Nets basketball.
A is for attention-span keeping
At times last year, the Nets would be blown out of the water before halftime, so this new and improved version has translated to some much more polished on-court product. Although they typically run out of gas in the fourth quarter now instead, we’ll take the baby step in the right direction.
B is for Bojan Bogdanovic
Yeah, we’re going for the double points here with BB, as the Croatian has given us plenty to love since his arrival in Brooklyn. From his 44-point outburst to his always-surprising posters, Bogdanovic has become a major staple with the Nets.
Lin is important, Lopez is important, but because of the Nets’ need for perimeter scoring, Bogdanovic is easily one of the team’s most important players each and every night. Cheers to Bogdanovic for doing the dirty work when the Nets need a bucket the most.
C is for Caris LeVert
The Nets’ latest first-round pick has yet to feature, but there’s so much to be excited for in LeVert’s eventual return. But, perhaps, the greatest thing thus far is the mystery: at Michigan last year, the talented prospect put up 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game, hitting at 44.6% clip from three-point range as well.
Could he be Paul George? Could he be an entirely new beast? Of all the Nets’ recent picks, LeVert is the one that should have fans the most excited about their current rebuild.
D is for the D-League
Major blessings to the Long Island Nets, their new D-League franchise. Aside from grooming potential down-the-line game-changers like Beau Beech or (sigh) Yogi Ferrell, the closeness of the squad allows the Nets to send Chris McCullough up and down at will.
While the athletic power forward doesn’t earn much playing time with the Nets, last night he became the fourth to ever feature in the NBA and D-League in the same day — offering a new kind of development that was foreign to the franchise a month ago.
E is for Energy
The record is just 4-10, but the energy and enthusiasm is there, all thanks to that new head coach. Admittedly, the gulf in talent is usually deep each night, but when the Nets play with that infectious fervor, share the ball, and support each other, there’s a clear improvement over past incarnations of this squad.
F is for friendship
That unmistakable bond between head coach Kenny Atkinson and Jeremy Lin is what united the dynamic duo in Brooklyn — and we are so, so thankful.
G is for grit
In what seemed like an unfortunate buzzword in September, the phrase Brooklyn Grit has truly come to define this young team. They may not have a superstar, but they’ll scrap, fight, and hustle until the very end — and that means everything. Although the results have been missing without Lin, their effort helps even the most committed of Nets supporters in line.
H is for home
The Nets are 3-4 at home and just 1-6 on the road, proving that home really is where the heart is.
I is for Isaiah Whitehead
It hasn’t all been easy for the late draft pick, but Whitehead has responded well to his quickly-advanced role. After Lin went down and Greivis Vasquez needed ankle surgery, the former Seton Hall superstar was forced into the starting point guard role.
After surviving bouts with Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, and Isaiah Thomas, it’s fair to say that the Nets’ rookie has earned an extra slice of pie today.
J is for Jeremy Lin
Without Lin, the Nets have looked like an entirely different basketball team, unfortunately for the worse. Even as he tries to help from the bench, the results are just not the same — a massive hole for the team trying to tread water until his return. Just a month into the season, he’s definitely defined this scrappy Nets team and the sooner he can return, the better.
K is for Kenny Atkinson
You want three-point shooting? Got it. You want Lopez to start firing at a near 40% clip from there too? No problem. You want a Spurs-esque motion offense? Yeah, let’s attack that too.
Injuries have, sadly, put a dent in Kenny Atkinson’s rotation thus far, but he’s done an incredible job of getting every man — from Bennett to Whitehead — ready to compete each night.
Finally, it feels like the Nets have their head coach of the future.
L is for Lopez, Brook
From suddenly deciding that he wanted to be a three-point shooter after 9 years in the league to spending his day off in LA introducing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to Disneyland, Brook Lopez is an absolute treasure.
He’s now the Nets’ franchise leader in blocks and is in striking distance for points, rebounds, and free throws as well. Should he remain a Net until the end his career, there’s a fair chance that we’re looking at one of the franchise’s best of all-time — that’s special.
M is for Marks, Sean
Since his late-season arrival in 2015-2016, Sean Marks has made a distinguishable change in the franchise already. From quickly committing to Sean Kilpatrick to snagging Whitehead and LeVert in the draft, Marks has a clear vision and culture he’s looking to execute on.
Although they missed on Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe over the summer, Marks moved fast on signing steady veterans like Randy Foye, Luis Scola, and Greivis Vasquez to plug the holes as the Nets continue to drive forward. Up next, he’ll need to make a decision on Lopez’s future — but, thus far, he’s batting .1000%.
N is for new jerseys
I mean, enough said.
O is for offensive firepower
The Nets have scored over 100 points in all but four of their games so far. They’re also chucking up the third-most three-point attempts in the league — they might not be making them all, but they’re exciting in the very least.
Let’s save the defensive issues for the New Year’s Resolutions post…
P is for Picks
While the Nets haven’t had as much control over their draft picks as they might like, they’ve done well for themselves over the last two seasons. They moved Mason Plumlee for Hollis-Jefferson, took a flier on the injured McCullough, and snagged Whitehead and LeVert this year.
Sure, no Jaylen Brown hurts, but they’ve taken some huge steps towards reversing their fortunes, don’t forget that.
And I love it.
R is for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Speaking of quirky, here’s your monthly reminder that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a blessing.
S is for Sean Kilpatrick
For the uninitiated, Sean Kilpatrick may just seem like your regular-fare sharpshooter, but his story is far more incredible. At this time last year, Kilpatrick was toiling away in the D-League, unsure if he’d ever get another shot at the NBA.
After a short stint with the Denver Nuggets, the Nets lapped him up in February, signing him to two 10-day contracts before giving him the first multi-year deal of his career. Lately, he’s struggled in the point guard role, but it’s hard not to be happy for a dude who now has everything he’s always dreamed about.
T is for Trevor Booker
You didn’t think we’d go an entire post without name-dropping Trevor Booker, right? For all the Nets’ maddening inabilities to finish a full 48 minutes or even play ace-level defense for multiple possessions in a row, watching Booker grind almost makes up for it. From game-saving blocks to flexin’ to defending his teammates to facing up against Marcus Smart, Booker has been an fearless pleasure to watch.
U is for you
You deserve some shine for sticking it out with the Nets thus far — we promise, things will be better soon. You went through 12-70. You went through perennial disappointment and terrible, nagging injuries to Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko. You stayed strong through the demise of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson’s tenures in Brooklyn. You went through missed picks, bad trades, and Billy King — you deserve a damn blue ribbon.
It’s going to be ugly before it gets better, but we’re almost there.
And, as always, thanks for reading — we love you all.
V is for Vasquez, Greivis
I know, I know, the Nets waived Greivis Vasquez. But, man, all our collective spirit and well-wishes go out to the veteran point guard as he recovers from ankle surgery. Think about what you love to do and that’s precisely what Vasquez has had taken away from him for the better part of two years.
When Vasquez gets healthy again, I’m sure the rabid and loving community would welcome him back with open arms — just ask Isaiah Whitehead.
— Ben Nadeau (@nedough) November 10, 2016
W is for Who Am I?
Shoutout to Ian Eagle, Ryan Ruocco, Sarah Kustok, Donny Marshall, Chris Carrino, Mike Fratello, Jim Spanarkel, Chris Shearn, and the rest of the amazing, award-winning YES Network squad that helps make some miserable nights a little bit better.
X is for execution
In year’s past, post-timeout execution often resulted in isolation play for Joe Johnson or a haphazard attempt at fluidity. Now, under Atkinson, the Nets are running some gorgeous out-of-bounds plays and motion offense sets. Whether that’s quick-moving passes that find Joe Harris in the corner or finding ways to get Justin Hamilton another open look, Atkinson has had a profound impact on this team already.
Y is for Yogi Ferrell
Another undrafted rookie making a splash in the NBA? Yes, please. Thankfully, he’s part of the Nets’ franchise.
Z is for zzzzz no longer
#1 in pace, #1 in our hearts.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from everybody at The Brooklyn Game — we’re very thankful to have you all.