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How the Brooklyn Nets Became the Team to Beat

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How the Brooklyn Nets Became the Team to Beat

Michael

Michael

Michael

Jiho Park & Hunter Neuman

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At the end of the 2013 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets decided to make a trade that would shock basketball fans across the world—but for all the wrong reasons. The Brooklyn Nets traded two superstars who were far past their prime, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Nets decided to trade away three first round picks and the right to swap for another two years, which ended up being a fatal decision. While Pierce and Garnett eventually retired and left the Nets in a hopeless situation, the Nets decided on what many experts—like Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith—would be impressed by: the hiring of Sean Marks as general manager and Kenny Atkinson as head coach.

Paul Pierce

What Marks did was not flashy, but he used his sole advantage that he had against other teams: his salary cap. In the NBA, teams are given a salary cap that means that if teams are to go over the limit, there would be a costly tax. Therefore, with the lack of first-round picks from the haunting trade from 2013, Marks took players like Demarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried, and Jared Dudley, who have high salaries for draft picks.

But the trades aren’t what makes former players praise Marks. His ability to draft quality players makes him a general manager that teams covet. Marks was never given a top 15 pick, which is often called a lottery pick because of the greater chance of getting the better player. Marks got late round picks, yet still found quality players, players who could be cornerstones of the future. Marks drafted Caris Levert, who looks like a diamond in the rough, with the 20th pick. Levert started his career on the quiet side, but was looking like the favorite for most-improved player, as he was averaging 20 points per game before he dislocated his foot. In the 2017 draft, Marks drafted center Jarrett Allen with the 22nd pick. Allen right now is considered one of the best defenders in the game after blocking shots by all-stars Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Lebron James. He’s currently averaging eleven points, nearly nine rebounds, and one-and-a-half blocks a game. His presence in the paint has helped scare off opponents from attacking the basket; when they do, they’re on the receiving end of a massive block.

Spencer Dinwiddie

However, Marks has also found success in free agents. Spencer Dinwiddie was a second round pick for the Detroit Pistons in 2014. He then was moved to Chicago and was eventually cut. Marks picked him up, and injuries to both Jeremy Lin and D’angelo Russell allowed him to really find his place in the NBA. According to CBS, Dinwiddie said his success stemmed from the coaches who gave him the  “green light [which] is the greatest drug known to man.” He was Brooklyn’s star last year and is currently averaging nearly 18 points coming off the bench. Another second-round pick, Joe Harris, has also found great success in Brooklyn. Harris was drafted by Cleveland in 2014, as well. He spent most of his time there as a benchwarmer. In Brooklyn, Harris has received a much larger role than he’d ever get at Cleveland and has been a lights-out shooter. As a starter for Brooklyn, Harris averages 13.4 points and shoots an amazing 46.8% from three. “Joe Harris is a vital part to the Nets offense,” said Charles Fontaina (’20). “[He’s] a consistent knockdown shooter who isn’t shy to attack the basket when other teams play up on him.”

Jarrett Allen

As of now, the Nets hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and look to be a playoff team. Russell is playing at an all-star level, Dinwiddie is a leading candidate for sixth man, Kurucs is currently the best Latvian player in New York, and Sean Marks is a candidate for executive of the year.  Although they may not be an NBA Finals competitor, their future has potential with plenty of space in their salary cap for next year’s draft picks. If the Nets can sign one or even two superstars, their future is destined for greatness, hopefully including a championship.

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How the Brooklyn Nets Became the Team to Beat