Another season is in the books for the Brooklyn Nets. They had their promise — they had their injuries — and they had their breakout performances. Spencer Dinwiddie picked up an All-Star Skills Challenge trophy along the way to a potential Most Improved Player bid. The Nets even won eight more games than last season.
The Brooklyn Game went roundtable to try to break down Brooklyn’s 28-54 season and what is at the top of the to-do list entering the offseason. Who will stay? Who will go? Here is what we thought.
Looking back at 2017-18
Sandy Mui: It’s a bit disappointing to see how the season turned out for the Nets, considering there was some chatter during the summer about them potentially making the playoffs. I didn’t have high hopes for that happening anyway, but it would’ve been a pleasant surprise to at the very least see them fare better in terms of being in the running. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the team only accumulated 28 wins, it was a rather successful year in Sean Marks’ acclaimed “progress.” Nets fans must constantly build love and hope on silver linings, so there ya go, I just gave ya another one.
Jaymz Clements: That was a season that feels about right, right? With Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell missing time, the youth and lack of star quality shone through and meant there were plenty of rough times. Kenny Atkinson’s coaching is still a work-in-progress, but the player development aspect of the staff — while slow — is there. There are the beginnings of an outline of a team there, but it is going to be interesting to see if players like D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen develop well enough to fill in that outline.
Elizabeth Swinton: Not much more could have been expected out of this Nets season outside some advanced development at point guard. We found out that Spencer Dinwiddie can be a starting point guard in the NBA, which is big, but there are questions still left in terms of Russell, Lin and Isaiah Whitehead. The good news for Brooklyn was mostly everyone else improved — Joe Harris, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert all did. DeMarre Carroll was not only a leader but a consistent contributor. Jarrett Allen is the real deal. This season was a learning experience for Brooklyn for what is needed to be a playoff team, just as the season was meant to be.
What were the surprises?
Sandy M.: We saw improvements from a lot of players who stuck around for another season in Brooklyn — primarily LeVert, Hollis-Jefferson and Harris. Out of these three, Harris was the one who surprised me the most, since it was his incredible development that inevitably eliminated the need for Sean Kilpatrick. In terms of newcomers, I don’t think “not-a-salary-dump” Carroll will ever get enough credit for all that he brought to the team at the age of 31. Junkyard Dog has been incredible, both in what he brings for “culture” and his contributions on the floor. On another note, Allen as a future slam dunk contest participant, anyone? That rook is really something special.
Jaymz C.: Jarrett Allen being this good, this soon. The resurgence of Carroll was unexpected too. Joe Harris proved his improvement was not a fluke. Dinwiddie improved to the point where he’s a legit Most Improved Player candidate. The list goes on.
Elizabeth S.: When Joe Harris said before the season that he could shoot 40 percent from three for the year, I did not believe him. Six months later, he ended up with a 41.9 percent clip from distance while averaging nearly two threes per game. He proved me way wrong.
What is the main goal this offseason?
Sandy M.: I feel like we have been saying the same thing for the last couple of seasons, but… size up! It is extremely tiring to watch the Nets get hammered by an opposing team’s big man night in and night out. The season finale, like many other games this season, was absolutely brutal to endure. Plus, Sean Marks has preached again and again that the Nets won’t be tanking, so the only other option is to compete and win. They will not be able to get that much farther if they do not (finally) upgrade in bigs.
Jaymz C.: Similar to last year, the Nets need to pounce on underutilized and undervalued assets and flip anything of value into something more valuable. Unearthing a second-round gem would be handy.
Elizabeth S.: I’m with Sandy on this one — the Nets have a problem defending inside, and it needs to be fixed to give the team a chance next season. Another big goal is to keep Joe Harris at all costs — pay the man and keep him in BK! It will come back to bite the Nets if they don’t.
Who will stay/go?
Jaymz C.: Harris may get a contract offer that the Nets don’t match, as the number might be a bit too rich for their blood. On the flipside, I’m pretty sure no one else will pony up so much money for Jahlil Okafor that the Nets get priced out though. So there’s that, if that’s a positive.
Elizabeth S.: Brooklyn’s roster will have five free agents: Quincy Acy, Dante Cunningham, Joe Harris, Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. Of the five, Harris will get the most interest in the market. I think the Nets will match for Harris, as he has expressed his interest to stay in Brooklyn, but he is the only semi-safe bet (if you can call it that). Acy was inconsistent, Cunningham was pretty solid but dispensable, Okafor was stuck to the bench and Stauskas was not given much runtime either. If I had to guess, I would say Harris and Cunningham stay, but the rest go.
Next steps for Brooklyn?
Jaymz C.: I’m interested to see if the Nets can jump in on the end of other three-team moves with the Timofey Mozgov contract to balance things out, or by moving DeMarre Carroll for a pick after rehabbing his body and game this year. I’m also very curious to see what they do on draft night and their potential to move up.
Elizabeth S.: The Nets have just over two months until draft night, where they have Toronto’s first-rounder and two second-rounders. Whether they will try to trade up or stay still is still unclear while we wait for the talent pool to fill in, and the trade market will for sure be interesting. This NBA offseason is one to look forward to all around, and the Nets have a shot to be in the middle of it. Will they pull the trigger? We will have to wait and see.