Can networks outdo themselves?

Can networks outdo themselves?

Can networks outdo themselves?

For better and (probably) for worse, the Brooklyn Nets have no shortage of tension. Here are some things that happened to them since then Kyrie Irving was suspended on November 3:

  • Kevin Durant gave an interview to Bleacher Reportit’s Chris Haynes in which, among many other things, he said: “Look at our starting line-up. Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, Claxton and myself. No disrespect, but what do you expect from this group? Hope we win because I’m out there. So if you look at it through that lens, expect us to play well because No. 7 is out there.”
  • A report emerged from The Athletic about the difficult relationship between Ben Simmons and his teammates. It included details about the infamous Brooklyn players-only meeting on Oct. 29, in which Markieff Morris “spoke in front of all of his teammates about how much they need Simmons to be successful and that he needs to respond when faced with adversity in the track”.
  • After back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Kings, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn he gave one of the best quotes in recent NBA history: “I don’t know if our minds, bodies and souls are still in LALA they can do this to you sometimes.” (Brooklyn allowed 153 points to Sacramento.)

On Sunday night, Irving returned to action after serving an eight-game suspension for sharing a video with anti-Semitic troopers and then refusing to apologize or denounce his anti-Semitic language in public. Both Durant and Simmons were also in the lineup. almost all was well at the Barclays Center for the first time in a long time. The Nets scored 70 points in the second half and outscored the Grizzlies by 12 points. Wins are always good, but this could be the first of Brooklyn’s season that sparks something deeper than simple relief.

For a team desperate to put the most embarrassing episode in its history behind it, victory is a potential (I repeat: potential) crucial moment. Perhaps a real sense of optimism is taking hold.

Now about to settle into some sense of normalcy, two questions matter: (1) What are the Nets? (2) Where do they go from here? A few weeks ago this team was a shame. Now, with a new head coach leading a revitalized roster, there are real reasons to be optimistic about this group, distractions aside.

While Irving was suspended, the Nets went 5-3, ranked second in defensive rating, third in net scoring and fourth in assist percentage. With him back on the floor, Ben Simmons is starting to look more assertive and make a positive impact on both ends (just in time for Tuesday night’s trip to Philly!); Kevin Durant is still Kevin Durant; big players like Joe Harris and Seth Curry are rounding into form; and Yuta Watanabe has become the most popular shooter on the planet.

There are too reasons to feel the Nets could implode at any moment. The team has a core personality trait that can best be described as erratic. Time will tell if they have enough traits and discipline to outdo, well, themselves.

General questions arise. Durant may become frustrated with Brooklyn’s inconsistency and demand another trade before the deadline. There are 184 players who have taken at least 100 shots and none have a higher contest rate than KD. His job is difficult, and if the Nets regress, there are some fascinating scenarios to consider, albeit few. My personal favorite sends Durant to the Blazers for Anfernee Simons, who can’t be traded until Jan. 15, Jerami Grant, three unprotected first-round picks, and a couple of pick trades. (Portland would have to modify the protection of the 2023 pick it owes the Bulls for this to work.)

A trade request would change the Nets and alter the makeup of the entire league. But if Durant recommits to the organization and Irving avoids spewing hate speech over the next few months, Brooklyn’s only variable on the court will be Simmons, who is slowly returning to the singular force that Sean Marks once was. that was entering. the James Harden trade.

On Sunday, Simmons returned to the starting lineup as the wrecking ball center. He attacked the paint, rolled hard off screens, got to his spots in the post, crashed the glass, found open teammates and put together his best basketball game since the first round of the 2021 playoffs: 22 points (on 13 shots), eight rebounds and five assists. When Simmons accentuates his own power by taking advantage of the gravity of his teammates and all the space it provides, very good things happen.

Simmons downplayed his performance afterward, reiterating that he always believed he would return to who he was. His colleagues agreed. “I expect that from Ben,” Durant said. “So when I play well, I won’t get excited.” This was actually a great deal for a team that can’t accomplish anything meaningful without him. Another night worth remembering is also coming up.

The biggest moment of Simmons’ season, however, might have happened Thursday when he wasn’t even on the court. A couple of minutes into the third quarter of Brooklyn’s tight win against the Blazers, Sumner lost track of Damian Lillard trying to dodge a thicket of screens and led to an open Simons 3.

Vaughn replaced Sumner with Simmons on the next dead ball, putting him alongside the rest of the team’s starters, and it’s not hyperbole to wonder if that decision will be seen as a pivotal moment for the Nets and Simmons when the three of us look at her. months from now

Simmons played 19 minutes in the second half — a total surpassed only by Durant — and had a higher plus/minus than everyone else in the game. He set smart screens, rebounded, competed on defense, made effective fast breaks (the Nets are much more likely to get away with an opposing shot when he’s on the court), and even became an aggressive duck. It is too early to tell if this is a return to form. Simmons still doesn’t look like a peak player, but he seems to be finally realizing that he’s bigger and faster than 95 percent of the league:

In Simmons’ first five games back from a sore knee, Vaughn brought him off the bench to experiment with different looks, including fun little lineups that featured him at the 5 surrounded by some of the best shooters alive. These groups are not sustainable defensively, but trade Durant and Watanabe (which is producing an absurd 1.58 points per shot) for, say, Curry and Patty Mills, and suddenly there’s more size without sacrificing space. (The Simmons-Durant-Watanabe-O’Neale-Harris formation he’s only played four minutes this season.)

Defensively, Simmons can be Brooklyn’s own Bam Adebayo, a physical, positionless monster who changes nearly every screen he’s involved with. The Nets can put him on the opponent’s top offensive option or neutralize the action by sticking him on whoever is most likely to put him. a ball screen.

But the original issues that made Simmons a polarizing player before arrived in Brooklyn — an allergic reaction to jump shots and a jaded relationship with the free throw line — still exists. He can’t share the floor with non-shooting teammates, which limits lineup possibilities and, more specifically, forces Vaughn to stagger Simmons and Nic Claxton (who missed Sunday’s game due to personal reasons) or find ways to exploit the attack. with both on the court. There are some possessions when Brooklyn’s great talent will mitigate the problem, but even someone like Durant can’t consistently overcome a tight floor.

And then there’s Simmons’ free throw, a fatal flaw that opponents are starting to pick up again. Simmons didn’t attempt a single free throw in his first three games back, and Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups chose to intentionally make it twice during Thursday’s crunch time.

The Nets should be pleased with what they’ve seen from several key players recently, including Simmons and Watanabe. They also have reason to believe their offense it will be even better than it already has been: They rank first in quantized shot probability and 25th in quantized shot completion. Much of that is thanks to unusually low 3-point percentages from Joe Harris, Durant and Irving. They should score, especially if Simmons continues to set them up with open looks in transition.

Of course, it was against an opponent that lacked what it has been The best backcourt in the NBA, but everything clicked for the Nets on Sunday. They recorded a season-high 33 assists and shot 60.2 percent from the floor. There’s still a lot of basketball left to play and it’s impossible to trust this team until it spends a few more weeks in Memphis.

But if Simmons, Durant and Irving find a way to complement each other and have the support of a cast that was initially built to make life easier for them, Brooklyn can look like a playoff team, if not a playoff team. thing more

#networks #outdo

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