Greenberg: Nets are bad, but they’re playing like a playoff team

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Greenberg: Nets are bad, but they’re playing like a playoff team

Well, we’re only a few days into 2017, but it isn’t shaping up to be much better than last year. After the Brooklyn Nets threw away 40 good minutes against the Utah Jazz in the blink of an eye, wanting to hibernate until the summertime wouldn’t likely be frowned upon by anybody.

And while many writers and papers have jumped to defend the Nets and head coach Kenny Atkinson’s modern upgrade on their once-formerly archaic offense, most often noting their passion and/or peskiness, the kind words end right around their 29/30 mark in the power rankings.

However, those very same Nets are playing more like a playoff team these days writes Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post.

Of course, this is just in theory and style as the Nets are generally outgunned at every position, situation, and facet on the court, but Greenberg raises some interesting comparisons:

“Atkinson has installed a modern basketball philosophy based on analytics, replacing isolations and post-up plays with a fast pace that includes open three-point shots, drives to the rim and a transition-focused offense. It’s similar to the blueprint utilized by the Houston Rockets and ‘Moreyball,’ but also found in the gameplans of playoff and championship teams like the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nets rank first in pace(103.9 possessions per 48 minutes), second in drives per game (34.8), third in three-point attempts per game (32.8) and sixth in free-throw attempts per game (25.2). Last season the team was in the bottom 10 in each of those categories.”

In that case, are the Nets just simply missing their versions of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and James Harden? Well, no, not exactly, but the early indications are promising for Atkinson and his staff.

Although the leaky defense has definitively outweighed the Nets’ improved pace and three-point shooting marks, there’s finally reason to believe that the franchise is headed in a positive, long-lasting direction. Greenberg, who spoke to two NBA scouts, had some well-meaning praise for the Nets to pass along:

“‘I like the way they are playing,’ one of them said. ‘But all they have is Brook [Lopez] and Bogdanovic, maybe Lin if he can stay healthy.’

The other felt Brooklyn was two to three years away, theorizing the Nets would be trading veteran players in the coming months in an effort to stockpile draft picks and get good, young players that fit their current way of doing things.”

So, the moral of the story: hang in there, Nets fans, it’s always darkest right before the dawn.

The Nets are the worst team in the NBA, but they’re playing like a playoff team — Neil Greenberg