Brooklyn Nets Extend Kenny Atkinson
Following Monday’s 131-121 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Brooklyn Nets extended Kenny Atkinson and his coaching staff to new contracts. Currently, it’s unknown how long the extensions are for and exactly which coaches were extended, but this is a huge move for the Nets.
Atkinson joined the Nets in 2016 with Sean Marks after spending time in Atlanta as an assistant coach. Him and Marks promised to create a new culture in Brooklyn, and create a “sustainable club that’s going to be patient but looking to improve”. In his time with Brooklyn, he’s done just that.
Atkinson’s team, with not much talent, won 20 games in 2016-2017. The Nets then improved to 28 wins the following year. This season, after being patient for three years, the Nets are more than hopeful they will be in the playoffs.
As for his coaching staff, Atkinson promised to bring in “good people who will help our players get better”. There’s a lot more to be said about that statement than what meets the eye. Atkinson and his staff wanted to create a culture for the players, one where it will always be player first. The staff didn’t feel the need to win when first arriving, the focus was on player development.
In 2016, the team unveiled a brand new training facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. One that every player who comes and goes through the Nets describe as the best in the league.
NY Sports Day
In 2016, the Nets signed D-League player Spencer Dinwiddie to a three year contract. Dinwiddie fits the bill as the type of player the Nets want to bring in. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, he fell in the draft, and the Nets were his third team in 3 years.
In the 2016 draft, the Nets took a risk on Caris LeVert. The team traded Thaddeus Young for the Michigan guard. Like Dinwiddie, Caris had a chip on his shoulder, he fell in the draft due to injury, and the start of his NBA career was delayed.
Finally in 2017, Marks traded Brook Lopez and a pick for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Russell, the second overall pick in 2015, wasn’t working out in L.A., his game was not developing and was outcasted by his teammates due to a locker room incident involving Nick Young. With a chip on his shoulder, the Nets got him for a relatively low price.
Under Kenny Atkinson, these players have developed into stars. Patience was key for these three guards, but it’s finally paid off. Russell is now an all star, Dinwiddie is averaging 17 points off the bench and LeVert was on his way to becoming an all star before suffering a knee injury in November.
Atkinson has the Nets in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and there is more hope than ever surrounding this organization.