Trouble in Brooklyn: Why the Nets Just Can’t Get It Right
*Photo via USA Today
The Brooklyn Nets are 1-9 this season, and are tied for the second worst record in the league. The team has played a lot better in their last few games (and should have won all of them), but still find themselves with a two-game losing streak. Now the team is back from a long road trip, with a lot of questions, and very little answers.
So what’s wrong with the team? Some people thought they would struggle this year, but not too many people thought they would be this bad. The problem is actually very simple: The team just isn’t good enough to sustain wins.
The team plays hard every game. I can make an argument that play just as hard as any other team in the league. But they tend to run out of gas by the end of games, and don’t have enough talent to push through for 48 minutes.
Good Teams Win and….
*Photo via USA Today
Let’s take these last few games for example. Like I said earlier, they should have won all three, but instead lost the last two to the Kings and Warriors. They did manage to stick out a win in Houston for their first (and only) win of the season.
In Sacramento, the Nets were in total control of the game and had Kings center DeMarcus Cousins struggling and frustrated. Cousins then erupted for an unbelievable third quarter with 21 points and gave the Kings the momentum needed to finish the game out. The Nets had the ball with a chance to either tie or win the game in the final seconds. Instead, the inbound pass was tipped and stolen and the Kings broke the hearts of Nets fans everywhere.
Then on the next night, Brooklyn went into Golden State and took a convincing lead on the undefeated defending champions. Steph Curry wasn’t totally being Steph Curry-like, and the Nets were taking advantage of turnovers. Then, with about a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Warriors turned the light on and started hitting some clutch shots to tie the game. Once again, the Nets had the ball with a chance to hit a game winning shot. Brook Lopez caught and shot a bunny right in front of the hoop, but it rimmed out as the buzzer sounded. The Warriors turned on the heat in overtime, and held the Nets to only one basket in the period.
For a third time, the Nets could have (and should have) won both of those games. They would have had a three-game winning streak coming back home, and would have had a ton of confidence. Instead, they have to have a lot of disbelief and doubt.
At the end of the day, good teams find ways to win, and bad teams find ways to lose. The Nets had leads late in both of those games, and couldn’t close it out. Whether it was missed shots, turnovers, and other bad decisions (more on the turnovers later), the Nets have found ways to give away a bunch of games this year.
The Shooting Blues
*Photo via Wtop
Some key players haven’t been showing up for the Nets as well. One of the reasons why I thought the Nets would be decent this year was because I thought they had a lot more depth than people gave them credit for. However a lot of that depth hasn’t shown up yet.
I raved about rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but so far his offense has been worse than I thought. However, it’s still early in the season. I believe his struggles have to do more with confidence (or lack-there-of), and not ability. I still think with a little more time, he’ll get it together.
I’m more disappointed with the veterans that the Nets signed in the offseason. Andrea Bargnani has missed more wide open elbow jumpers this year than anyone I’ve ever seen. Ironically, he has been making some clutch defensive plays, but he’s struggled to be a consistent shooter off the bench. His shooting was the ONLY reason why the Nets signed him in the first place.
Wayne Ellington was another guy that the Nets picked up with high hopes this season. He’s supposed to be a pretty good three-point shooter, but he’s shooting the worse three point percentage of his career at 30%. He and Bargnani were supposed to give the Nets some outside firepower, but the two of them (as well as the entire team) can’t hit a shot if their season depended on it (hence why they’re 1-9).
The biggest disappointment this year has to be Joe Johnson. This is a guy that we thought was going to have to have a big year in order for the Nets to win (or in order for him to be good trade bait), but it’s just not happening. He’s only averaging a little less than 11 points a game, and he’s shooting a career low 33% from the field. The only reason why he’s even getting over ten points is because he is shooting a career best 88% from the free throw line. Don’t even get me started on his abysmal 19% from three point land!
It’s A Turnover Sale!
*Photo via USA Today
Another one of the reasons why the Nets have been losing all of these close games is because they can’t stop turning the ball over. Against the Kings, the Nets had only two turnovers in the first half. That was tied for the best mark all season. This stopped the Kings offense from getting any fast break points, and allowed the Nets to take advantage of the turnovers that they were getting. But in the second half, the script flipped drastically. The Nets committed 13 turnovers in the second half alone. A coach would go mad with 13 turnovers in a game, but these jokers did it in a half!
The turnover machine started up again against the Warriors the following night. The Nets had the ball with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter when point guard Jarrett Jack decided to dribble the ball in a circle instead of getting the ball over half court. The Nets were called for an eight-second violation, and the ball went back to the Warriors. The Warriors eventually tie the game up, Lopez misses the game winning layup, and the Nets lose another heart breaker in overtime.
The Nets average 14.8 turnovers a game, tied for 15th in the league. They need to get that number down if they want to be able to compete every night. Teams that already aren’t good offensively need to cut back on the turnovers the most.
Light at the End of the Holland Tunnel
*Photo via NYPost
Not all things are going bad for the team. There are a few positives with this team however. Yes at 1-9 there can still be positives, but that’s why there’s a “few.”
As mentioned earlier, these guys are playing hard. If they can continue to play with energy and effort every game, they’ll be able to steal a few wins here and there. Their energy and effort is what almost won them the last few games, eliminate the mental mistakes, and they would be sitting pretty right now.
I love the play of Shane Larkin so far this year. His energy and hustle on both sides of the ball have helped the Nets a lot, especially as of late. He’s made big plays when the team has needed him to the most, and has earned more playing time moving forward. He also apparently went to Billy King and Lionel Hollins and apologized for not playing with energy earlier in the season, and has turned it up ever since that conversation. That type of leadership is contagious and the Nets could use more people like him in the locker room.
The Nets are looking like they are going to be in for a long season if they don’t get their act together soon. They’ve shown flashes and spurts, but haven’t proven that they can contend on a consistent level for 48 minutes yet. Turnovers, poor shooting, and costly mistakes have doomed them so far. The good thing is that all of that can be fixed with more time and practice. We’re only 10 games into the season, and there’s plenty of time to turn the ship around. However, it would behoove the Nets to fix their problems now, and not dig themselves out of a hole too deep to get out of.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com