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Hey guys I know its been awhile since you guys have heard from us here at 360sportsblog.com, but with a little break in the action with school I should have the time to help rebuild this site.
As you may know, I have been cursed by bad basketball over the last eight or so years. With Kidd, Carter and RJ on the road, it looked like the other NBA franchise in the NY/NJ area was ready to start fresh with a brand new rebuild in Brooklyn. Then, we lose the lottery after finishing 12-70. First pick that year=John Wall. Derrick Favors, who the Nets settled on at 3, ends up being traded for All Star point guard Deron Williams. That was cool for a minute I guess. Well, until they gave up the number 6 pick (Damian Lillard) for Gerald Wallace. The Wallace trade set this franchise up to fail. The Nets move to Brooklyn was so fragile that they felt they needed bigger names who were ready to contribute right away. Nets GM at the time Billy King decided to throw every asset left in the bank to try to compete with LeBron and the Heat for the East. Joe Johnson, Paul Piece, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry….How many are left? Ok, I’m going to end this section here because if I had five hours to rant about the Nets I might run out of storage on this wordpress thing.
Either way, we are obviously reading this in the present because there is finally a change in Brooklyn. Management, Coaching, Scouting, Players, Draft Picks, Prospects…..
It’s all coming together now. Now GM Sean Marks (the star of this article) has turned the future around in Brooklyn, assembling players and prospects who fits Kenny Atkinson’s system. The Nets team in that season had 15 different starters. The only one left: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Marks started with no cap space, minimal assets and no draft picks.
Marks’ first signature move as Net GM was being aggressive and trading solid veteran forward Thaddeus Young in for the 20th overall pick. Marks knew that he may not be able to replace the starter level quality that Young provided at number 20, which is why they decided to shoot for the stars. Caris LeVert, a long athletic scoring guard out of Michigan. LeVert could have been near the lottery had he not gotten injured during the season. Many teams were nervous to take him and many mock drafts had him falling way further than 20. Marks shoved his foot in the ground and after a solid half season of promising highlights it looks like we could actually be developing a good shooting guard in Brooklyn. Could you tell me the last time we did that? Me Neither.
Marks took his aggressive approach into the offseason making large contract offers to restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe. Both offer sheets were considerably high especially with how little we know about these two players. With the Heat and the Blazers matching the offer sheet, the Nets had the financial flexibility to make a much smarter move in investing in a more known commodity like Jeremy Lin. Lin had his ups and downs as he was pushed around from team to team to team. However, Kenny Atkinson had coached Lin in the past and the duo have had success. Marks rewarded Atkinson with the right guard in a good fit.
However, the team still only had Lin, Brook Lopez and a handful of projects. Marks decided to be shrewd with how he spent the rest of the team’s cap space. He decided to give shots to players like Luis Scola, Justin Hamilton, Anthony Bennett, Greivis Vasquez who could help teach the younger guys get used to life in the NBA. He knew that he could move these contracts if there was an opportunity.
With Lin getting hurt, we never really got a chance to find out how good the Nets could have been. Even when he returned, the rest of the team struggled to go back to their normal race and they quickly fell down the standings.
The Nets had some excitement this season especially with the promising mid-season debut of Caris Levert. LeVert’s surprising athleticism was beautiful for Marks to see. His potential as a 3 and D scoring wing is rising every single day. LeVert’s upside wasn’t the only time the Nets Nation got excited about the future. The deadline provided Marks the opportunity to sell high on Bojan Bogdanovic. The Nets were able to grab the 22th pick in the draft, making it two years in a row where the Nets were able to regain their draft position. Marks also invested in a couple of project guards who may stick around at least for the short term in Archie Goodwin and Spencer Dinwiddie. Both players have provided nothing less than what the organization has expected after giving them a shot on ten day deals.
The Nets did start to figure out the present as well towards the end of the season, winning four of seven in the month of April. Atkinson finally got the puzzle pieces to all work when he decided to play a three guard small ball line up with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the four. Hollis-Jefferson’s quickness and length made it hard for his oversized defender. On the offensive side of the ball, the front office realized that you can hide Hollis-Jefferson’s shooting a lot more than if he plays the three. And with Brook Lopez turning into an automatic flat-footed jumpsuit machine, the Nets could afford to let RHJ just make cuts and slash.
This paragraph will be the hardest one for me to write so if you are still with me but fading out just hit the red tab and just throw on the Summer League or something (I don’t blame you I’m watching the summer league as I’m writing this). Ok, now on with it. Brook Lopez is finally traded. For years, Lopez has been thrown in almost every trade rumor anyone could think of. Could you believe at one point the Nets were willing to move Brook Lopez and two first round picks for Dwight Howard. Last time I checked Michael Jordan just traded like six nickels and a half pound of some North Carolina Pulled Pork for Dwight Howard. Brook Lopez was the Net we didn’t deserve.
Nevertheless, this article isn’t about Bro-Pez, its about the man that traded him. Marks took advantage of Lopez’s expiring contract in order to create cap space. The Nets would have had to pay a ton to keep Lopez and the Nets were able to turn that into a 21 year old shooting guard with a ton of ability. D’Angelo Russell should be ready to play alongside Lin in Kenny Atkinson’s fast-paced offense. Even though they had to take on Mozgov’s contract, they still will have a quality NBA center who can give you solid minutes while the team searches for a new big man to replace Lopez. D’Angelo is still so young and could easily become the face of the franchise.
I was triggered to write this article because of Marks’ last move. Trading Justin Hamilton (who?) for DeMarre Carroll and being able to pick up a first and second round pick next year. Not only has Marks dug the Nets out of draft pick hell, but he has been able to acquire first round talent every year. He has cleaned the house and built the franchise with good young players who look to turn what looked like a promising franchise around. We will see how former Texas freshmen Jarrett Allen turns out, but even if they do miss at least they got a chance to raise a prospect. Thankfully, we have restocked and added some talent in the wells. We will see how the rest of Marks’ tenure goes, but at least we have seen a very promising start from Marks in just under a year and a half.
Keep it up kid.