Nets showing fight despite glut of injuries
The Nets are showing the true meaning of “Brooklyn Grit.”
Besieged by injuries, the Nets (8-13) are continuing to battle and compete in every single game they play. Take Wednesday night for example; Brooklyn went into Dallas without Jeremy Lin (out for season), D’Angelo Russell (knee), Allen Crabbe (sore back) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle sprain) and still managed to pull off an impressive victory.
Kenny Atkinson and his coaching staff deserve an immense amount of credit. The amount of time and effort they put into player development has started to pay dividends this season. With the severity of the injuries suffered to many key players, Brooklyn’s “next man up” mentality has never been more important.
Take Spencer Dinwiddie for example. He was cast aside by both the Pistons and Bulls before signing with the Nets last December. He showed flashes last season, but after putting an entire summer and training camp with the Nets’ performance development team, he has looked like a completely different player this year. Once Lin and then Russell went down with their injuries, Dinwiddie stepped into a starting role and has taken his game to new heights, currently averaging a career-high 12.1 points and 6.1 assists per game. He is showing that he can be a big part of Brooklyn’s long-term future.
Trevor Booker and DeMarre Carroll are grizzled NBA veterans who have undoubtedly found their niches in Brooklyn. Both players are contributing on the court and are considered to be leaders in the locker room, especially in the wake of Lin’s gruesome injury. Booker has been known for his clutch rebounding. He sealed Wednesday night’s win over the Dallas Mavericks by grabbing several clutch offensive rebounds off of missed free throws in the final minute.
Carroll was supposed to be a salary dump. He came over to the Nets in a trade after two unproductive seasons in Toronto. However, he is now looking like the player Atkinson coached with the Atlanta Hawks back in 2015. With Hollis-Jefferson and Russell both out, Carroll has been the heart and soul of the team. Not only is he scoring and shooting at a high percentage from the floor, but he is also defending the opposing team’s best player on most nights. Ask any casual NBA fan and they will tell you that they would not expect an NBA team to win a game with Dinwiddie, Booker and Carroll leading the charge, but it happened this week with the Nets earning road wins against the Memphis Grizzlies and Mavericks.
Several other role players have also stepped up their games, thanks to both the additional playing time they are receiving and their continued development. Joe Harris has been one of the most consistent Nets so far this season, scoring in double-digits multiple times since Russell went down. He came over to the Nets during the Summer of 2016 as a borderline NBA player and is now a perfect example of how well the organization is helping young players develop. He has turned into a lethal shooter from 3-point range and is getting better every game. Caris LeVert is also making huge strides in his second NBA season. He will become a scary player once his shot starts to fall on a more consistent basis.
One truly has to question how many more wins the Nets would have with a completely healthy roster. The presence of Lin and Russell alone could’ve given the Nets 11 or 12 wvictories instead of the eight they currently have. That would put them right in the thick of the playoff race. There’s still time for them to make a run, and you know Atkinson will continue to have his team ready to compete every night regardless of who suits up. As long as they stick to their current mentality, they will continue to trend in the right direction during this massive rebuild.
The rest of the NBA is noticing this Brooklyn Grit. Have you?