Coaching Carousel: Brooklyn Nets
Who said Merry-Go-Rounds can’t be fun for adults? Well if you’re an NBA coach it might not be, but for us at Off The Glass they sure are. Let’s take a look at who's new and who’s through in this year’s coaching carousel.
Out With The Old: Lionel Hollins – 2nd Year: 48-71/ 262 - 272 Career
In With The New: After a slow start, which one might expect from the collection of talent (or lack thereof) that took the floor in Brooklyn nightly. The Nets fired Hollins mid-season and went with an interim head coach (Tony Brown) to lead a team boasting a roster that had been decimated by bad trades and the lack of blue chip talent. The Nets predictably finished in the basement of the Eastern Conference and to add insult to injury, they did not get to use the pick they earned with such a poor record.
What Could Happen: Hiring Atkinson is actually a very un-Nets-ish move by locking down a young coach who comes from a successfully run organization and is part of the Popovich coaching tree. Still, Atkinson will have his work cut out for him as he inherits one of the biggest messes in the association.
Currently, the Nets roster is a mix of long shot prospects, fringe NBA talent with at most 2 real NBA starters sprinkled in. Several years of trading assets or picks for 30-something year players, who no longer play for the team have caused this talent desert. Fortunately for Atkinson, Brooklyn does have arguably the best offensive center in the game in Brook Lopez and newly inked PG Jeremy Lin, who has at least proven to be able to put up numbers when given the minutes. Unfortunately, for the rookie coach there are 3 other players on the court at one time.
Atkinson, due to the lack of assets will need to find ways to mold some of the projects the team has into productive players, something the Atlanta organization was great at: Demarre Carroll & Kent Bazemore come to mind. Injury prone lottery talent Chris McCullough & Caris Levert ,hometown gunner Isaiah Whitehead and former top pick Anthony Bennett are all candidates. Second year man Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has flashes of elite defensive skills but needs to develop offensively to become a 2 way player. Another wildcard is Olympic standout, Bojan Bogdanovic. who doubled his humble 10 ppg this summer while leading Croatia to a respectable finish in Rio. The rookie coach must refine this crude mass of players into something to fuel some wins.
Prediction: 25-57 _ Anyone who learned under Coach Bud / is part of the Popovich tree really intrigues me. I also really like Lopez and think Lin is due for a huge statistical season. This might be enough to keep them out of the deep cellar, but at the end of the day this is not a good team. Fans of Barclay’s Boys must hope one diamond is found in the large rough that is the current franchise, as those 1st round picks are still a while away.