Social media overreactions, fans’ optimism swiftly deteriorating with every polished-off Heineken bottle as their team vastly underwhelms, or the polar opposite, fans already declaring their team the new crowned NBA champions after a 2-0 start—it’s amusing what the first week of a basketball season brings us.
It’s chaotic, it’s infuriating, it’s sometimes downright depressing, but would we have it any other way? Of course not. What are sports if they don’t put you through a rollercoaster of emotions? Brooklyn Nets supporters have been riding that rollercoaster since the park opened their gates: we’re not getting off; we’re comfortable in chaos.
It has not been smooth sailing in the early going. No one will refute that. The season opener was hijacked by Karl-Anthony Towns and his downright unfair skillset. Jarrett Allen‘s lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and overall gym routine which led to an increase in muscle mass this summer was no answer to the offensive repertoire of the 23-year-old who looks primed for an MVP-caliber type of campaign.
KAT dropped 36 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 7 threes against Brooklyn in the Nets’ home opener. That’s the type of stat line you get in 2k with an 87 overall MyPlayer against the Charlotte Hornets on rookie difficulty. It’s what few players in this league are capable of, which is actually good news for the Brooklyn Nets. His greatness, unfortunately, compensated for 50 points from the debuting Kyrie Irving.
Obviously, not an ideal start to a season brimming with expectation, but a polished product on the hardwood should not have been expected for the Brooklyn Brigade.
On the defensive end, the Nets have looked…well, they’ve just looked bad. There is absolutely no need to sugarcoat it, as the perimeter/interior defense has been virtually non-existent—except for Taurean Prince‘s surprising job on a much larger Julius Randle in the block against the Knicks on Friday.
However, this is not an article predicated on harping on the shortcomings of Kenny Atkinson’s 1-1 squad.
No, instead, why not spread some cheer? Optimism is good for the soul.
Last year, the Nets finished 5th in the NBA in three-point makes per contest (12.8). Atkinson’s motion spread offense, which relies heavily on off-ball movement and freeing up perimeter shooters resulted in the Nets’ success in that regard. This year, despite a multitude of new faces, they are picking up exactly where they left off.
With a starting lineup that consists of Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, and Taurean Prince, this should not come as much of a surprise.
Reigning three-point champion and resident fan favorite Joe Harris has led the charge through the first 120 minutes of the regular season. His shooting gravity ignites their offense; if he’s going that night, the Nets are usually successful.
Last year he shot 48.1 percent in catch and shoot opportunities from distance, which was best in the NBA (minimum 4 attempts). This year he’s shooting a ridiculous 70 percent on 5.0 attempts.
Likewise, Taurean Prince’s three-point shooting has been a major boost to the Nets’ offense thus far. His 2.5 makes per contest on a rather efficient 41.6 percent is exactly what this team needs of him on the offensive end. If he can consistently have nights as he did against the Knicks—which saw him go 3-for-7 from distance and hang in tight against the much larger Julius Randle—his contract will prove to be an absolute bargain.
The Nets have looked at their best when their running off-ball actions to free up perimeter players and the ball is constantly moving; they have looked their worse when they take turns in isolation—which have often lead to stagnated production.
The three-point shot is a deadly weapon for Kenny Atkinson’s rotation. With how bad certain aspects of the game have looked for Brooklyn in their first two games, their perimeter shooting has compensated for those inadequacies.