The Brooklyn Nets finished 20-62 last season which was the worst mark in the entire NBA. To make matters even worse, the Boston Celtics held the rights to what ended up being Brooklyn’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. To add fuel to the already-burning fire, the Nets also don’t hold the rights to their first-round selection in 2018.
But, the franchise made some important decisions this offseason which have undoubtedly made their team better heading into this season.
Most importantly, they traded arguably the best Net of all-time, Brook Lopez, along with rookie Kyle Kuzma, to the Los Angeles Lakers in return for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. While Mozgov was included in order to make the salaries match up, Russell instantly becomes the face of a rebuilding franchise, and he’s ready for the challenge and new opportunity.
Judging by his recent comments, he is fired up and signaled that Brooklyn fans should not expect a repeat of last season.
“I want teams to hate us,” Russell said at the Nets Inaugural Basketball Camp at Battery Park City per Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily.com. “We’ve struggled over the last few years in Brooklyn. Teams are used to coming in and taking nights off. I just want to rebuild that and make it a place where people come and say, ‘alright we got the crowd against us. It’s New York.’”
The Nets were also able to acquire 25-year-old wing Allen Crabbe and veteran defensive guru DeMarre Carroll. While both players bring a large price tag with them, they will play major roles and represent major positional upgrades for a team that struggled to receive consistent production last year.
“I feel like everyone’s confident around here. Individually speaking I know I’m coming in with an edge. Allen Crabbe – I know he’s coming in with an edge. DeMarre Carroll’s coming in with an edge. I feel like we’re a confident team and we’re looking forward to doing what we do best,” Russell noted.
The new point guard noted that he isn’t the only one with a chip on his shoulder. He also was quick to note that it wasn’t “his team” since there are other influential leaders on the roster, including Jeremy Lin, who emerged as an unnamed captain for the team during its recent struggles.
“It goes back to the chip on my shoulder. I wouldn’t say, ‘it’s D’Angelo’s team’ or anything like that, but I feel like it’s up for everybody to make their imprint as a team. Me coming in with a chip on my shoulder, A.C. [Allen Crabbe] coming in with a chip on his shoulder, I feel like we’re going to blend together and we’re going to be a great team," he said. "As long as we’re making strides that’s all I could really ask for.”
Not only is Russell excited for the change in scenery, but he’s excited to play under coach Kenny Atkinson’s fast-paced, team-oriented style of offense.
“Once we start playing I think I’ll have a better clue on it [the system]. But I’m excited," Russell stated. "Excited to play with coach – a player’s coach that has credibility. He’s coming from a lot of different situations and different teams that have been successful.”
While the team does have a few veterans, Brooklyn has done a nice job in bringing in young, athletic talent. In addition to the 21-year-old Russell, the team drafted 19-year-old center Jarrett Allen from the University of Texas and will be bringing back Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, all of whom are 22 years old. Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris are 24 years old and 25 years old respectively.
Since the Eastern Conference is wide open beyond the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, it seems as though the Nets have a chance to shock the NBA and earn a playoff spot if everyone stays healthy.News Now - Sport News