Brooklyn Nets: Star power lands as Nets look to rise in 2019-20
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
After completing the second-best free agency coup in the league, the Brooklyn Nets are poised to make a leap this season.
Just three years ago, the Brooklyn Nets were in dire straits. Having just completed a 61-loss season, they still lacked assets to justify such poor performance due to mistakes of a previous front office. Tangibly, the only asset of significance heading into the 2016-17 season was Caris LeVert, who at the time was a rookie and injury-prone.
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Fast forward to 2019 and the Nets have Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie and a (relatively) healthy LeVert. In three seasons, general manager Sean Marks and his crew got creative and completed one of the most impressive rebuilds the league has ever seen.
Devoid of anything valuable, all the Nets had to work with was the salary cap. They used said cap space to take on bad contracts, incurring assets (such as D’Angelo Russell) as compensation.
In addition, their work on the margins was exquisite. Prior to becoming a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie was a castaway who couldn’t make the rotation in either Chicago or Detroit. Joe Harris was also unable to get minutes in Cleveland. Both these players were incubated in Kenny Atkinson’s developmental environment, and they popped as a result.
The premier culture brought by quality veterans (Jared Dudley, DeMarre Carroll) coupled with a high level of developmental acumen brought by the staff made the Nets a standout franchise in 2018-19 and the team won 42 games as evidence. That was more than enough to recruit the duo of Durant and Irving, which validated the rebuild instantaneously.
Thanks to the exodus of Kawhi Leonard to Los Angeles, the Eastern Conference opened up a bit. Here’s a look at how the Nets will fare in their first season of true expectations in half a decade.