It is 2019, more than half way into the NBA season, and the Brooklyn Nets are currently a playoff team in a competitive Eastern Conference.
Yes, Lebron is not in the East anymore. Many will say the conference will be decided between the Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, and 76ers come April.
But, I am here to tell you that the Brooklyn Nets are a legit dark horse in the Eastern Conference. Here’s why.
When looking at the Nets 2018-2019 roster, novices who barely watch the game will probably not be able to name more than five players on this Kenny Atkinson led team. In fact, the starting lineup for the majority of this season has been led by former Los Angeles Lakers misfit D’Angelo Russell, as well as 2017 first round pick from Texas, Jarrett Allen.
Who is Jarrett Allen you might ask? Well, he is the only player in the NBA right now that has blocked both Anthony Davis and Lebron James at the rim this season. And besides that, he might have the best hair in the league.
This Nets team is filled with players that have never been able to find a true home in the league. It’s almost as if Brooklyn GM Sean Marks looked for players that coaches around the league have given up on when putting together this roster.
Shabazz Napier, Allen Crabbe, Demarre Carroll, and D’Angelo Russell; these are just some of the names of the contributing players on this Nets squad that are thriving with a team that many thought would fail.
Head Coach Kenny Atkinson predicates his system around ball movement, and that is no surprise considering he was taken under Mike Budenholzer’s wing during his time as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks just a few years ago. And folks, this system is working.
Russell is having a breakout season for Atkinson, averaging 19.5 PPG while shooting 38% from behind the arc. The Lakers gave up on Russell, and Atkinson is making them regret that.
The Nets are quietly sitting four games above .500 in a season where many thought they would tank. They are primed for a playoff spot come April, and being 8-2 in their last 10 games sure helps.
This Brooklyn Nets team is fun to watch again. The Barclays Center has become the place to be if you want to watch great team basketball.
So ladies and gentlemen, do not sleep on this Nets team. They are just getting started, and are poised to make some noise in just a few months.
-Allen Perez (Senior at Kennesaw State University, Sports Director of KSU Owl Radio, radio play-by-play announcer for Kennesaw State Men’s basketball, sports talk show host, and lead NBA Beat Writer for Craw’s Corner) (Twitter: @therealATLfan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)