Brooklyn Nets Mid-Season Report Cards
As we approach the All-Star break, it’s as good a time as any to assess how players are living up to their expectations. After three seasons of watching Boston use their picks to draft young talent, the Nets finally have their pick back. At the beginning of the season, many fans and those around the NBA expected the Nets to tank, especially with Duke freshman Zion Williamson playing on another level in college. However tanking is not in the Nets vocabulary, according to GM Sean Marks.
Now three and a half months into the season, the Nets have already matched their win total from 2018. Below are first half grades for each player, and a brief summary of their season to this point.
D’Angelo Russell: A
D’Angelo is an All Star, whether he is selected as an injury replacement or not. His improvement in the turnover department, as well as having one of the best mid-range shots in the NBA, earns Russell an easy A. Although he started off slow, Russell is finally turning into the player he was projected to be before being the Lakers drafted in 2015. He’s been one of the healthiest players for Brooklyn, which is very important, considering the Nets have had seven players miss an extended period of time this season. Russell is giving Nets fans a lot to look forward to, and is quickly balling his way to a contract extension.
Spencer Dinwiddie: A-
Clutch is the easiest way to describe Dinwiddie this season. Deep three after deep three, Dinwiddie started off the season as one of the hottest players in the NBA. He is currently considered one of the favorites for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Being able to embrace the role of a spark plug off the bench was big for his confidence. After two months of his electric play, he earned a three year contract extension with Brooklyn. Dinwiddie will miss about a month of action after receiving surgery to repair ligaments in his thumb. Although not ideal, Dinwiddie should be back in time to help the Nets make a push towards the playoffs.
Jarrett Allen: B
The list keeps growing for The ‘Fro, and it’s a huge reason the Nets have been gaining at least some national attention. As fun as the blocks and dunks have been, his struggles inside against larger big men have shown. Rebounding was a problem for him early in the season as well, however he has recently turned it around. Regardless, Allen is one of the most fun players in the league to watch, with each of his dunks and blocks in consideration for a Sports Center top- 10 play.
Joe Harris: B+
Lumber Joe continued where he left off in 2018, except now he has an epic beard to go along. He’s quickly paying off for his contract, and is now bidding for a spot in the three point contest. The defense struggles at times, but his offensive ability makes up for that, as he is third in the league in three point percentage.
Rodions Kurucs: A-
In terms of pure play on the court, Kurucs has his struggles with shooting consistently and being able to hold onto the ball. However, this report card is based off expectations, and Rodions has exceeded them by a vast margin.
He was the 40th pick of the NBA draft, and nobody was sure of what his role would be on the team, or if he would even be on the team. Now, he is starting on a team that is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference. Kurucs is shooting 48% from the field, and is on his way to Charlotte to take place in the Rising Stars challenge for Team World.
DeMarre Carroll: B-
After missing the first few games due to ankle surgery, Carroll came back and added strength to what was already the strongest part of this team, the depth. His defense continues to be his strong suit, and he’s improved his ability to drive with the ball. Despite the spark he can provide in the second unit, he is shooting at his lowest percentage in the past three years, leaving him with a solid B-.
Ed Davis: B+
He came to Brooklyn with the reputation as one of the best backup centers in the league, and he has delivered. Averaging 8.7 boards in 18.4 minutes, Davis has been exactly what the Nets needed, a strong presence inside. Davis eats up the boards on both sides of the ball, and his scoring ability has improved throughout the year.
Jared Dudley: B
For fan interaction, Dudley gets an A+. Although his physical play on the court hasn’t been the best on the team, nobody could say they were expecting Dudley to come in and start right away. Coming over from Phoenix in July, Dudley said he could still contribute to a team in the NBA. His basketball IQ is off the charts, and we’ve seen countless times coach Kenny praise him in postgame interviews for what he brings to the team. Dudley has missed the previous 10 games with a hamstring injury (as of 1/31/19), and although the Nets are winning in those games, his presence on the court is missed.
Shabazz Napier: C+
Similar to Ed Davis, Napier came over from Portland with a reputation as a very solid backup in this league, however, to no fault of his own, Brooklyn already has one of the best bench guards in the league in Spencer Dinwiddie. When Napier does get opportunities, he hasn’t made the most of them, having up and down performances throughout the season. He has had his moments, and he certainly has stepped up in the recent absence of Spencer Dinwiddie, however due to a slow start, it would be tough to give him the same grade as his longtime teammate Davis.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: C
The longest tenured Net came into the season with high expectations following a breakout 2017-18 campaign, but injuries have plagued Rondae throughout the first half of the year. It’s been hard for him to find a fit on the team offensively, as he’s never had a consistent three point shot.
Allen Crabbe: D
To clarify, Crabbe’s injury does not factor into this grade. It’s been a rough season for him. When healthy, Crabbe is only shooting 34% from the field, the lowest in his career by far. At times, we saw his three point shot return to form, but overall, it’s been a disappointing 2018-19 for Crabbe and his $18M contract. He’s been battling a knee injury, limiting him to 28 games this season. .
Caris LeVert: Incomplete
If this report card was written in November, LeVert would have received an A+. He was having an all star season for Brooklyn, hitting game winners and putting the Brooklyn on the map. LeVert was everything the Nets were hoping for, and then some. When the Nets traveled to Minnesota on November 12th, 2018, LeVert suffered a leg injury that was hard to watch, but him, and the Nets dodged a bullet, as he is expected back at some point later in the season.
Treveon Graham: Incomplete
Graham didn’t get solid minutes on the Nets until January 4th, and since his entrance into the lineup, he’s struggled to find his shot. His defense has played an important role for the Nets, and it will be interesting to see what his role will be once Dudley recovers from his injury
Kenny Atkinson: A+
Going back to October, if you were to tell anyone the Nets would be the 6th seed in the East at 28-25, not many would have believed you. Even now, it’s hard to believe the Nets are this good with the amount of injuries they’ve suffered.
Coach Kenny deserves all the credit in the world for taking this team to where it is now. There aren’t many coaches in the league that would be ok with a players only meeting, let alone encourage it. Since that players only meeting in December, the Nets went from 8-18 to 28-25. On top of this, he’s managed to bring D’Angelo Russell to an All-Star level, something Nets fans have been waiting for since acquiring him for Brook Lopez in