If the Nets fall to a non-NBA team in preseason, and no television cameras or radio announcers broadcast it, did it really happen?
Unless you were one of the lucky 6,857 people to sneak into Barclays Center and catch Brooklyn’s inaugural 2015-16 preseason game, you have no idea what anything looked like during the 101-96 Nets loss at the hands of Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker. That’s not because you don’t WATCH THE GAMES, NERD; it’s because the game literally wasn’t on TV or radio. This upset some fans:
@uuords Cavs are streaming a scrimmage on their website. No viewing for Nets GAME at all. Should be used to it, but not a great look.
— mike saunders (@realnetsfan) October 5, 2015
But it is what it is, and take solace in the fact that all 82 regular season games will be broadcast on YES Network.
I say this before and during every preseason, but it bears repeating: this is just preseason. Guys are trying out different looks and experimenting with different styles. Lionel Hollins is looking at the effectiveness of certain combinations more than anything else. Preseason wins, losses, and statistics aren’t predictive, just reflective. It’s fun to overreact to wins and losses, but it means little either way. If you thought the Nets were bad before this game, you should still think it now; if you thought they were good, a crunch-time lineup that featured exclusively backups should not dissuade you.
With that in mind, here’s 10 things we saw at Barclays Center Monday night… that you probably didn’t.
1) Barclays Center has a new baseline:
The new baseline at Barclays Center. pic.twitter.com/hSG5QDummd
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) October 5, 2015
The rest of the court remains the same, but it’s a really nice touch, similar to what they had over All-Star Weekend, and a solid symbol of New York’s underbelly subway system.
It’s also a bit colder in what was already a frigid arena, now that they’re keeping Islanders ice below the court. They’ve had ice in the arena before, but this is the first time they’ll have it all season long.
2) This very much looked like a squad with a lot to figure out. There were a bunch of missed defensive assignments, some sloppy turnovers (including one on the game’s opening possession), and a lot of things that need smoothing out. It wasn’t laziness so much as dissonance: the team often double-teamed a ball-handler, no one stepped up to help or knew how to recover, and they gave up an open look.
“They play a style where they were setting a lot of back-screens where you had to help,” Hollins noted. “They set a pick, then they set a back-screen, then flare a guy, and it’s the way they play. They move themselves, they set multiple screens, and it’s difficult to guard.”
3) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the self-titled “mid-range assassin,” getting in hard work pregame. The biggest knock on Hollis-Jefferson heading into the NBA is his jump shot: he’s got a noticeable hitch in his release, and only made six college threes throughout his sophomore season at Arizona. But three hours prior to game time, Hollis-Jefferson was out on the Barclays Center floor working up a Garnettian sweat on mid-range jumpers: he’d catch at around the elbow, jab step, then take one dribble and shoot, with mixed results.
Hollis-Jefferson has a number of physical tools that grade well in the NBA: he’s long, athletic, and plays hungry on defense. His jump shot is a major work in progress, and you shouldn’t expect him to put up big shooting numbers any time soon, if ever. But the journey towards 10,000 hours begins with your first workouts. If one preseason pregame (and, you know, an offseason’s worth of workouts) is any indication, he’s at least willing to put the work in.
In the game, the rookie came as advertised: very physical, stayed in front of his man on defense, but only hit two of six shots from the field, missing two of his three jumpers.
4) The exterior is all about one Brooklyn sports team — and it ain’t the Nets. Check these photos out:
Those photos, which encompass Barclays Center’s front exterior, the main subway entrance, and the Atlantic Mall advertising windows, all show one team — the new-to-Barclays-Center New York Islanders.
5) Brook Lopez hit a three-pointer. He actually did it. Lopez caught the ball in the right corner, was given space by his defender, and buried his lone attempt in rhythm. It’s really happening.
6) The Nets are promoting their fancy new practice facility… to opponents. Brooklyn’s all-in on their state-of-the-art facility, with enormous windows, views of Manhattan, a private player’s lounge, and more… and they want opposing players to know it, too. There’s what amounts to a sprawling advertisement of the team’s fancy new Brooklyn digs sitting right outside the entrance to the visitor’s locker room.
The view from outside the visitors' locker room at Barclays Center. Nets w/ an early pitch to potential free agents. pic.twitter.com/lEzmwKQSZv
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) October 5, 2015
If you think this is just coincidence: remember when the Nets were all-in on Dwight Howard and put up news clippings and promotional material outside of the Magic locker room? This is not new.
7) Deron Williams’s old locker went to… Andrea Bargnani. Presented without comment.
8) Brook Lopez did one thing I don’t remember seeing much in the past. Following a defensive rebound, Lopez hurled a loping 50-foot pass to a streaking Thomas Robinson, who finished on the other end with a fancy two-hand double-pump slam. Lopez finished last season averaging fewer than one assist per game, but if he can add a reliable outlet pass to his arsenal — and guys keep running — that’ll bolster the Nets offense.
9) Thomas Robinson has bundles of energy. Lionel Hollins started Robinson next to Lopez out of curiosity — he wanted to see how the Lopez-Robinson duo looked against other competition. Robinson was constantly on the move, hunting for rebounds, running the floor (he had two transition dunks), and trying to make plays. It resulted in Robinson flying out of position on a few plays, and hitting the floor for a rough fall in the second quarter while blocking a shot, but that type of energy and athleticism is something the Nets have lacked from their big men throughout the team’s tenure in Brooklyn.
10) In attendance: former Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, close friend of Billy King. Ferry took an indefinite leave from his position with the Hawks following the release of an audio recording in which Ferry referred to Luol Deng, a forward from Sudan, as having “some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way. But he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell your counterfeit stuff out of the back.”
Following the incident, King released a statement about Ferry through Grantland: “I have known him since we were 15 years old. He is like a brother to me and he is the furthest thing from a racist.”