Quick: What's the biggest joke of the decade in the NBA? If you answered, "The New York Knicks," then I'll give it to you. But most people would answer, "That damn Brooklyn-Nets-Boston-Celtics deal," and most people would be right.
When Celtics Director General Danny Ainge cursed his Brooklyn colleague, poor Billy King, in 2013, it did not matter. The Celtics had just joined forces to form a recovery team that could win 50 games each season. In addition, the Brooklyn Nets were at least half a decade back, making the second team of New York City was a junkyard, which consisted of bad players and worse contracts.
Well, the scrap heap looked more like a powerful Voltron this month, headed by D & # 39; Angelo Russell:
Russell a certain part of the NBA fans will always be known as the guy who taunted Nick Young, but his reputation as another Lakers buck for early draft selection should now almost be forgotten (hey, the Lakers would not like Russell as Have a trade.) Chip right now!). When he came from Ohio, everyone knew that Russell could score, but he has expanded his game by improving his three-point shot. He scores almost 38 percent this season, compared with 32 percent last year.
In the last month Russell has found a new level for his point game: in January, an average of 23.7 points per game and he beats almost four times every four times. Perhaps more impressively, he does all this with a probable percentage of 60.3, a truly elite number for a guard. Over an entire season, this would put him just under the top 20 in the league.
His playing skills have also improved as he got a grip on Nets manager Kenny Atkinson's system. He has 6.4 assists per game, compared to 5.2 in the last season. The wizards themselves have become prettier, including this cute little flip to Joe Harris, who was in the middle of the Fourth against Chicago last night:
Russells not perfect. For a point guard in today's NBA, he draws far too few fouls: According to the Basketball Reference his free-throw rate this season has fallen from a cliff to 0.13; By comparison, the free-rogue rate of James Harden is 0.490. And his defense is still south of mediocre; If Russell is down, Brooklyn is a below-average defensive team.
But the Nets have not only turned a former Lachstock into a starting quality point watcher, but a close all-star who can even compete against opponents; His best performance this season was a win against the Celtics on January 14, where he scored 34 points – with seven tricorns – and seven assists to start a six-win straight draw for the nets.
About this winning track: Since the beginning of 2019, the nets are an incredible 11: 3, and their only losses are to be expected on the road the same Celtics (twice) and the Raptors. It's no shame to lose street games against some of the best teams in the East, and the Nets were competitive at these losses, far from their parades of misery.
As for the eleven wins, Brooklyn has done something good Teams have to do: Beat teams that are worse than them. The current track has shown victories against bottom dwellers like Atlanta, Orlando, Sacramento, Orlando and the Knicks. The nets have also beaten the Bulls twice, including the victory on Tuesday night. It's not just Russell who does it alone, even though he was the headliner; On Tuesday, Shabazz Napier dropped 24 out of 24 for five three-point points to keep a spirited Chicago team in check. He also had a beautiful paddock to increase the lead to seven with seven seconds:
When Russell receives the clear first option, along with the Bulls cleverly notes to Napier that the basket is wide open and behind the defense of Chicago to secure the victory. Joe Harris, who threw the ball into the game above, has also become a key player for Brooklyn. On average, it was 13 points per game in which the ground was shot with 39.4 percent from 5: 1 attempts from the depth. The discards of other teams have developed into contributions. Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe help the Nets finish sixth in the East, just behind the Boston team that had escaped them so many years ago.
This has a lot to do with Atkinson, which grew out of Gregg Popovich's hearty practice tree. Atkinson has prioritized speed and efficiency in the transformation of the Spurs East networks, especially in January: since the calendar reversal, the Nets is playing at the sixth fastest pace in the NBA, just behind the speed demon Bucks and the LeBron-less Lakers. And although the efficiency-related offense is still in the middle of the pack, the team at the other end of the hall has been knocked out: the nets had the fourth-best defense rating in the league in January.
Atkinson should be the coach of the year. Nick Nurse does an excellent job in Toronto, but he got a motivated (and mostly healthy) Kawhi Leonard to work with. When Atkinson joined the Nets in 2016, Brooklyn had a 21-61 season with no guidance and little fortune. Although the team had actually lost another game in the debut season of Atkinson, it was apparent that a philosophy was taking shape, and with the help of general manager Sean Marks, the team began to include undervalued players who could shine in Atkinson's system. Two years later, this potential was recognized and Brooklyn knocks on the door of his first playoff appearance since 2015.
Above the team, however, hangs a black cloud that could keep Brookyln from making too much noise in the playoffs: Spencer Dinwiddie, the second-best The team's scorers and Twitter users were operated on this week's right injured thumb, and there is currently no timeline for his return. Dinwiddie reduces the pressure on Russell while he plays games himself. His 33-point appearance in one of the best games of the year (Brooklyn's 145-142 extra-time against James Harden Rockets) was stunning:
For a team like Brooklyn, who is playing with house money because it's finding out who should and should not be part of his future and the second round of the playoffs reached a year after winning only 28 games – the nets became the The NBA's first team, who reached last season's overall victory on Tuesday, should be considered a major accomplishment. There are no reservations here: After years of submerging in the swamps of the time after Billy King, the Brooklyn nets are now damned good.