OTG Team Awards: Brooklyn Nets
What a season, Brooklyn! The Nets are in the playoff race for the first time in years, and have one of the best young cores in the league. Here, we take a look at some of the players who helped spark this season.
6th Man of the Year: Spencer Dinwiddie
If he didn’t have midseason surgery, Dinwiddie would be in contention for the team’s MVP. The former G-League player turned skills competition winner has been a staple of this Nets team the past two years. He’s averaging 17.3 points off the bench, leading one of the best bench units in the NBA.
When Dinwiddie comes into the game, he provides a spark. He hits dagger threes, distributes the ball and can play well with any lineup. His thumb surgery didn’t slow him down, either, as he is shooting better post-injury.
The Nets rewarded Dinwiddie’s strong play midseason with a three year contract extension, and it was well deserved. He played his way into the contact, putting up amazing individual performances this season, such as his 39 points off the bench to lead the Nets to a win in Philadelphia.
Not only is he the clear winner of the Nets 6th man of the year, he will be in heavy consideration for the league’s 6th man award as well.
Most Improved Player: Joe Harris
D’Angelo Russell, in my mind, should win this award for the league, but, since Russell might win another award here, I wanted to shine a light on how good Joe Harris has been this season, and how much he’s improved his game.
Harris won the NBA 3-point competition in Charlotte, one of four Nets players to participate in the weekend. This year Joe Harris is shooting 47% from three, and no, that’s not a typo. He leads the league in that category, and is averaging 13.6 PPG (most in his career by far).
Harris has improved this year in about every category offensively, including points, rebounds, assists, free throws, and has drastically improved his shooting. He went from 41% from 3 to 47% from 3, and 49% from the floor to 51%.
Harris isn’t a one-dimensional player either, he excels in getting to the rim and putting it up, shooting 53% inside the arch, while distributing the ball well with 2.4 assists per game.
For the first time in his career, he’s started every game he’s played. He’s made a name for himself at All Star weekend and has been a key part of the Nets success this year.
Rookie of the Year: Rodions Kurucs
The 40th pick of the 2018 NBA draft, most Nets fans, including me, couldn’t even pronounce Kurucs’ name before the season started. By February, he had a highlight dunk in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
Kurucs had a slow start to his NBA career, only playing in four games in November. However, as soon as December hit, he became exactly what this team needed. With LeVert going down, the Nets were in the midst of an eight game losing streak. A mix of a players-only meeting and Kurucs joining the rotation launched the Nets to win 9 of their next 10 games.
Kurucs got hot in December and January, shooting 47% from the field and was able to fill the need of a stretch four for the most part, even though he is more of a three.
This year, the rookie is averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 20 minutes per game and is shooting 46% from the field. Even if he is the only rookie getting minutes on the team, he is more than deserving of the award.
DPOY: Jarrett Allen
Although he’s had inconsistencies against larger, more physical bigs inside, Allen is a huge shot blocking presence every team needs. The 6’-11 second year big is averaging 1.5 blocks and 8.4 rebounds per game, while opponents are shooting 48% on him.
That 48% may sound high, and it is, but it’s around league average for a center (Rudy Gobert allows 49%). The main reason Allen gets this award over Ed Davis is because Allen has put the league on notice. If you try to drive on him, he will block you.
Allen’s list of players he’s blocked include Kawhi, Giannis (twice), Harden, Griffin, Davis and yes, LeBron James. Allen is a flashy defender, he’s not the most consistent player, but throughout the season, we’ve seen the blocks and fear in the opponent’s eyes that make him the Nets’ DPOY.
MVP: D’Angelo Russell
Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Brigade, Theo Pinson’s Celebrations, Richard Jefferson, Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson
Russell could easily win every award on this list he’s eligible for (but hey, why not pull a Ben Simmons), he’s been that good. D’Angelo means everything to this organization, on and off the court.
He’s the closest the team has had to a home grown star since Buck Williams (sorry Brook Lopez) and is the first all star on the team since Joe Johnson. He’s been getting praise from superstars such as LeBron James and has been rumored of giving a tour of Brooklyn to Kevin Durant.
Off the court, Russell is becoming a star, and on the court, the 23 year old guard is doing more of the same. As previously mentioned, Russell became an all star this season, and is one of four players in the NBA averaging 20+ PPG, 7+ APG and 2+ 3PM.
Besides having all star numbers, Russell has also had memorable moments throughout the year. Most notably, his 14 points in triple OT at Cleveland, his 27 points in the 4th quarter at Sacramento to complete a 28 point comeback, and his 21 point, 13 assist game to eliminate LeBron James from the playoffs.
Russell has topped off this season with three 40 point performances and 11 double-doubles (and counting), making him the clear MVP of the Brooklyn Nets.