When Kennedy Atkinson signed up to be the coach for the Nets, many were convinced that his career as a coach was headed for the worst. You see, Atkinson had a fulfilling and formidable career as an assistant coach for eight years. The Nets on the other hand were not the choice team for many of those who were eyeing jobs as head coaches, despite an existing belief among NBA coaches that any job as head coach is a good job. Atkinson has however proved his basketball predictions critics wrong by actually changing the status of the Nets.
Here is a more detailed account of the story.
The Nets problems
One of the greatest challenges that have been dogging the Nets for a long time now is that of draft picks. This year, they had to contend with a draft- pick swap with Boston, and the next year they have to send their pick to Boston with no swap. Other challenges include the very obvious fact that the team lacks depth, and that they are prone to turnovers.
Additionally, last season was arguably the worst for the Nets, who were playing under Coach Lionel Hollins. They were too slow and didn’t manage as many 3 pointers as teams in the NBA should. In pace, they ranked 19th, while for the 3- pointers they were as low as position 27. Clearly, something had to be done to improve the performance of the team to make it at par with other teams of its caliber.
What Atkinson did
Before signing up to be coach for the Nets, Atkinson knew exactly what he was getting himself into. He was very much conversant with the draft- pick swap problem, but he made it the least of his concerns when he started working with the team. Clearly, he knows that the best way to overcome adversities is to ignore them. So rather than focus his and the team’s energies on their seemingly insurmountable problem, he focused more on the competition.
Another strategy that he employed is that of giving players a chance to shine at what they are good in- a chance many didn’t get in other teams. Perimeter shooters such as Joe Harris and Sean Kilpatrick were given more floor time, and this certainly contributed to the team’s improvement. Currently, the team’s leading shooter, Brook Lopez is a force to reckon with in as far as 3- pointers are concerned.
The Nets Transformation
Under their new coach, the Nets have started to flourish. This year, they ranked second in pace and third in 3 pointers. In the short span of time that Atkinson has trained the team, he has managed to pull them from anonymity to a being a team worth recognition. Although the same problem of lacking young talent and the draft- picks may continue to stalk the team, there is still great hope that in a short while, it will catch up with the rest of the NBA teams. There is also the imminent threat that Lopez might be leaving the team in the near future, although it is not an issue of great concern. All in all, people need to cut Atkinson some slack and appreciate the positive changes he has brought to the team.