Now the short answer to the question has to be exceptionally well. But behind this fact, there are a great many more stories to tell. In this, their 45th season in the NBA, the Brooklyn team are undoubtedly riding high and seem almost certain to secure a place in the playoffs. Perhaps they’re also daring to dream that this might be their year to beat the Lakers to the ultimate prize.
This would certainly be great news not just for fans but also for the recently installed coach Steve Nash. To take a team to the ultimate prize in the game in your first season in charge is a feat that not many have achieved. At the end of March, the Nets continued to challenge the Philadelphia 76ers for the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference being only one game adrift in terms of wins and losses. With a winning percentage after 44 games of .682 compared with the 76ers’ .705 it really couldn’t be closer.
Their nearest rivals in the Eastern Conference are the Milwaukee Bucks at .667 and, with two games in hand, they could certainly pose a threat. Nevertheless, anyone with an urge to bet on the NBA could do far worse than place a wager on the Nets making it past the first round in the playoffs – the best that they have achieved in the last couple of seasons.
Why the renewed success?
While Steve Nash would probably claim that it’s down to his inspired leadership as a coach, the influx of new talent into the team has undoubtedly had a part to play. There are four players in particular who are proving to be very good acquisitions and who would undoubtedly also like to make their first season with the Nets one in which they carry off the biggest prize in US basketball – the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
At the age of 32, it might seem like Blake Griffin’s best years might be behind him, but early signs that the new recruit who has joined the team from the Detroit Pistons will prove to be a very shrewd acquisition.
While his years with the Pistons, and the LA Clippers before that, may seem to have been dogged by injury, the 6’9” power forward certainly still has plenty to give. For evidence of this, you only have to look at his debut for the team against the Washington Wizards on 22 March. Brought on late into the first quarter and playing for just 15 minutes, he managed to achieve plenty logging two points, two rebounds, and a block. The result – the Nets went from trailing in the first quarter to emerging 113-106 victors.
Another player who was brought in as part of the deal with the Pistons was Bruce Brown. The 24-year-old shooting guard/small forward was drafted by the Pistons in 2018 from Miami and, ironically, his first appearance for the team was against the Nets. A year later, he produced his then career-best performance, again against the Nets, when he scored 22 points and provided 7 assists, surely catching the eye of his opponents as a potential new recruit.
After joining the Nets in November 2020, it didn’t take him long to come good. On February 23rd, 2021 he achieved a new career-best by scoring 29 points in the team’s 127-118 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
With the potential to produce many more performances like this in the future, Brown is sure to prove to be a vital member of the roster.
The third new recruit to the team already has quite some experience in the NBA, even though he’s still only 24. In a career that has seen him graduate from Wichita State in 2018 to the Philadelphia 76ers, he stayed with them for a season until moving on to the LA Clippers, again for a season.
He joined the Nets in a three-team trade in November 2020 where he’s seen as an exciting prospect. He’s allegedly been playing basketball since the age of two – and it seems like he has many seasons of success ahead of him. His one weakness seems to be a susceptibility to ankle sprains which has seen him sidelined this season and which also saw him ruled out of the playoffs for the Clippers last year.
One player who has made a major impression very quickly after joining the Nets is James Harden.
After joining from the Houston Rockets where he’d enjoyed nine very successful seasons, his first game, against Orlando Magic, saw him score 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists on the way to a 122-115 win. This made him the first-ever Nets player to achieve a triple-double in their first outing for the team.
In February he was awarded his first Eastern Conference Player of the Week title, with the second following on later in the month. Shortly afterward, he was named an Eastern Conference reserve for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
New arrivals from the Raptors?
Looking ahead, there are rumors circulating that a number of players from the struggling Toronto Raptors could also be on their way to the Nets. These include Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell. If they do join it will create an even more powerful line-up – and the sky could really be the limit for the team.