You will hear all season about the lack of talent on this Nets team. Point blank, they are just not that good personal wise. One can make the argument that outside of Brook Lopez, not one player would be fit to start on any other NBA team. So how has this team competed in their first three games of the season? Simple, they are living up to their designated hashtag. #BrooklynGrit.
Tenacious, aggressive, scrappy, this is how the Nets will have to play every night. GM Sean Marks believes Coach Kenny Atkinson embodies these terms, and it has shown through in the first week of this NBA season.
“He sort of exemplifies what it means to be that Brooklyn grit that we talk about."
“He’s going to demand it from the players. The players respect him because he’s out there with the guys every day on the court."
“He means it. He cares for them, and I think that’s where you get that player buy-in.”
All due respect to Mr. Marks, but buy-in is severely downplaying what Atkinson is tasked to do this year. He needs to instill confidence in this roster to compete every night like they can compete with the best of the best, with a roster that lacks depth, star power, and defense. So far, it hasn't been too bad.
A 1-2 start is one thing, but early in this season, the Nets seemed to belong. They went toe-to-toe with the highly touted Boston Celtics. They rocked the Barclays Center while taking down the star-studded Indiana Pacers. And they lost a heartbreaker in Milwaukee on a last second tip-in following a Justin Hamilton block.
In every game so far they have been there until the end. Jeremy Lin has proven to be a terrific playmaker and even flirted with a Triple-Double in the win against the Pacers. I know it's early, and they have a tough task against the Bulls, but it's something to speak about highly.
The most impressive team stat for Brooklyn describes how gritty this team can be. They are outscoring their opponent in the 4th quarter 102-70. Whether it's coaching, conditioning, or just plain luck, this stat shows that Brooklyn is in it no matter what. They will not give up on the game, or this season.
For an organization that is thought to struggle for the next three-plus years, the Nets are playing with house money. I mean, they don’t even have any potential first round picks to even “tank” for. All that Nets fans can ask for is for the team to come out and play hard every night.
It seems like Kenny Atkinson is discovering how to own his role as this team's head coach. He is the gritty coach that is leading this gritty team. It will be a long, painful road, but hey miracles can happen. So let’s be optimistic about this Nets team and look positively at their first three games. It might be one of the few bright spots of this season.