On Wednesday night, Brooklyn Nets basketball returned and it went…it went okay? Despite falling 107-102 to the Knicks, Brooklyn showed a lot of promise over the course of the game. If it hadn’t been for an offensive explosion from Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier, the Nets might have walked away with victory. Instead, they’re left with an 0-1 start to the preseason, some encouraging signs, and just a few worries. Let’s talk about some of those things!

The D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert Backcourt

With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out, the Nets moved Caris LeVert into the starting lineup, and while D’Angelo Russell served as the team’s main point guard while the starters were on the floor, head coach Kenny Atkinson’s offseason proclamation that LeVert could function as a key ball-handler in this offense proved to be true.

Throughout the game, Russell and LeVert took turns initiating the offense. Though they only ended with a combined five assists, the duo were part of an offensive attack that moved the ball effectively, especially in the first half as the Nets built a sizable lead.

That lead went away in the second half and both Russell (-15) and LeVert (-11) ended up with negative plus/minuses after a third quarter that everyone would like to forget. But the preseason is the time where things can go wrong. I’d rather focus on where they went right, and when Russell and LeVert were both handling the ball and hitting their shots, this offense was purring.

Joe Harris Will Shoot That Three

Here’s Joe Harris hitting a three on a play where the Nets moved the ball really, really well:

 

 

It seemed like Harris was lifting up for three at every possible moment in this one, which is partially true because he did attempt eight three pointers in 20 minutes. Those shots weren’t necessarily dropping as he made just two of those eight attempts, but we already know that Harris is a good shooter from long distance. No one should be questioning that after a preseason game. What encourages me here is his willingness to take those shots, plus the ball movement that helped him get those shots. Get his shooting form into regular season form and Harris will be a serious threat for this team, someone who’ll provide a huge scoring boost off the bench.

The Rodions Kurucs Party

We didn’t get to see Dzanan Musa on Wednesday, but we did get to see another rookie.

The 20-year-old Latvian didn’t see playing time until the fourth quarter, but he quickly made up for lost time. In 12 minutes, Kurucs scored 13 points, making four of his six field goal attempts and recording four rebounds, four steals, and a pair of assists.

Watch this sequence here:

 

 

Kurucs uses his quick hands to force the turnover, gathers himself, doesn’t see a pass, and drives toward the basket before stopping and hitting the contested shot.

I want to preface this next statement by reminding you that single game net ratings are completely useless in determining anything. Okay. Deep breath. This doesn’t mean anything, but…

Kurucs had a net rating of 99.4 in this game.

If there’s any meaning to glean from that, it’s that at the end of the game against other players trying to just make the final roster, Kurucs looked like a player who was a step ahead of those other players. While the guys around him were fighting to make a team, Kurucs played like a guy trying to make a rotation. I wasn’t a believer that he’d be able to break into this rotation early in the season, but I’m starting to understand the hype.

“Let’s Talk About Allonzo Trier “and Other Concerns

No one drafted Allonzo Trier. The Knicks have him on a two-way contract right now. But in 26 minutes off the bench, Trier tore up the Nets defense, finishing with 25 points, four rebounds, an assist, and a block. Though the Nets forced him into five turnovers, he was a force with the ball in his hands:

 

 

Brooklyn has to figure out how to apply more pressure on the defensive end to avoid letting players like Trier go off like this. As impressed as I was at times by the Nets on both ends of the court, there were moments where I was very unimpressed with the defense.

Also, Enes Kanter had 20 rebounds. Jarrett Allen had two great blocks in the first few minutes of the game, but he’s got to get stronger on the glass. If you search “Jarrett Allen” on Twitter right now, you’ll see a lot of comments about how “soft” he is. While I don’t think that label is necessarily fair, it is clear that Allen has more work to do with his post defense and his ability to limit offensive rebounds.

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