The Brooklyn Nets are in a state of stasis. The team does not control the rights to a first- or second-round draft pick until 2019, and the team’s front office has said the primary goal is to keep things in place to make a splash during next season’s free agency. But the season itself is bleak: the Nets have lost 12 of their first 15 games, despite a fair number of first-half leads.
The burden would fall on coach Lionel Hollins to try to find ways to improve. But before Saturday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Hollins admitted that there’s only so much he can do with his lack of talent, specifically saying he doesn’t “try to analyze everything.”
Matt Moore of CBS Sports transcribed that section, and it’s a doozy:
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 29, 2015
(Watch here on YES Network)
On the one hand, Hollins has a point. The Nets were not expected to seriously compete for anything this season, and their lack of talent is a big weakness. It doesn’t help that their bench has been unable to hold leads, but Hollins can’t take the shots that Wayne Ellington and Bojan Bogdanovic have missed. It’s a thinly veiled criticism of the team’s current roster construction, and an honest admission that there’s a ceiling on how good they can be.
But the first victory of the Nets season was an out-of-nowhere win against the Houston Rockets. That team isn’t as good as people thought preseason, but it was still an upset. Their second win came against the Atlanta Hawks, who swept the Nets in the regular season last year. The Nets led big in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs before eventually losing by 25, and were a missed layup away from upsetting the Golden State Warriors, who have yet to lose an NBA game.
The Nets haven’t created a lot of open three-point looks this season, even considering the fewer they’ve converted — they’re the only NBA team shooting under 30 percent from three, and also rank dead last in attempts per game. They also rank last in the league in effective field goal percentage allowed, at 53.1 percent. The question is if that’s fixable, or if that’s immutable. But it’s a question that deserves research.
It’s one thing to look at the tape, analyze, and then decide that there’s nothing you can do about Kevin Durant — a lot of times, you can’t do anything about Kevin Durant. It’s another thing to shrug it off entirely. In a league that features random upsets every night, it’s peculiar for a coach to openly espouse a “can’t-do-nothin'” attitude; wins and losses can swing on small adjustments, and as the famous quote goes, luck is the residue of design.
More damning is that they’ve also lost sleep before. Last November, the Nets assistant coaches took an all-nighter following a 98-91 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s the work of a coaching staff looking to analyze everything, and figure things out. It worked: the Nets won the following game.
But right now for the Nets, there’s not much Hollins feels he can do.