D’Angelo Russell is the Savior?

Nets New Faces: D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Timofey Mozgov, Jarrett Allen (R)

Nets 2016-17  Weaknesses:  29th: Turnovers. 26th: Three-point Percentage, Offensive Rebounding.  25th: 2-Point Attempts. 24th: Field Goal Percentage. 21st: Steals, Three-point defense. 20th: Assists.

Nets 2016-17 Strengths: 1st: Defensive Rebounding. 4th: Three-point Attempts, Free Throws made. 7th: Free Throws Attempted. 9th: Free Throw percentage. 10th: Total Rebounding, 2-point Percentage defense.

Nets Leading Scorer 2016-17: Brook Lopez, 20.5

Nets Leading Defensive Rating 2016-17: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trevor Booker 107.

After miserable off seasons, the Nets pulled off a stunner by grabbing (love him or hate him) combo guard D’Angelo Russell out of L.A. where he had an up and down two seasons. Regardless of Russell’s past, he gives the Nets a bright light, a player they can market and build their team around. Finally, they have an identity and a player that fits. Russell is a three point shooter who can post up. He is as arrogant as he is petulant but he is never boring and for a team that will be in the lottery again without their top-5 pick they need not to be boring.

Russell will try his hand at leadership without much pressure early on. Paired with Jeremy Lin, the Nets backcourt will be entertaining but not much defense. Lin is quicker than Russell, who has pretty average foot speed; he has to stay on the perimeter. Lin who can beat his man off the dribble is a perfect compliment.

Add to their tandem, three point scorer Allen Crabbe who the Nets have long coveted and you have the building blocks to the offense that will take the Nets on what they hope is a blistering scoring campaign. Not to hate, but caution is needed.

Russell has never been an efficient scorer. Crabbe is. But he was protected by having Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum get most of the defensive attention. DeMarre Carroll was a good shooter in Atlanta but injuries have changed his career. There is a lot about this Nets team that is wait and see. Which is better than last year’s cover your eyes and pray.

Year two of the Sean Marks era is here. In year one, he had to rewrite recent Nets history, or perhaps take a giant red marker and x out a lot of the chaff. Start with Mikhail Prokhorov’s “brilliant” idea to sign aged veterans in a win now scheme that brought the Nets nothing but lost draft picks. So here they are.

They took last year’s team and added more pieces to become a vague outline of the Warriors. A lot of three point shooting. Not a lot of making. Last year, the Nets took a lot of threes. But. They were near the bottom in the league at three point shots actually going in.

This much is clear. The Nets are a long way from the playoffs. Their best players are too young. They have to learn how to play together and their defense is abysmal which means a lot of 120 defensive nights.

Jeremy Lin has to stay healthy. The pick and roll between Lin and Brook Lopez is gone now that Lopez is in L.A. and Timogey Mozgov is taking his place. Mozgov doesn’t fit the Nets style of play. He is slow, barely skilled and can’t jump. But around the rim he can be a bully and grab rebounds.

The question is going to be offense outside of Lin, Russell and Crabbe. Can anyone else score in double digits? Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, in year three, is on the clock. He has to prove he can be a shotmaker and guard his position. So far, it has been a struggle.

D’Angelo Russell enters this mediocre scrum with very little hype outside of what he generates on social media. As someone who likes headlines, pressure, drama and has an over-sized ego, the Nets are a perfect place to land after a Lakers failure and a public diss by Magic Johnson.

The Nets need a player like Russell, one who says look at me.  Clearly, Brooklyn is his redemption song but it’s not as simplistic as many believe. There was a lot to hide behind in L.A. Not so here. He can’t duck pressure, no blame game, no other players to obliterate the sun. Russell’s career will be made or will be broken in Brooklyn. That alone makes the Nets season intriguing.

Kenny Atkinson did an okay job last year and this year the same motto: play hard. Space the floor. Uptempo. Atkinson is in charge of this cast of characters, making sure they give effort every night. Atkinson was an assistant/disciple to ball moving coaches Mike D’Antoni and Mike Budenholzer so it is  safe to say the offense is going to be dependent on ball movement and player movement. Unfortunately, shot making is the Nets biggest weakness.

Prediction: 26-56

photo via llananba