The Nets Return to the Playoffs
By: George Burkert
Back in 2013, the Brooklyn Nets made a big trade. They sent their draft picks to the Boston Celtics to receive aging all-stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and former sixth man of the year Jason Terry to try and compete in the Eastern Conference at the time.
This resulted in only one playoff win and all the players they got left the team within one year.
Years later, it became clear the Celtics won the trade, gaining young, talented players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Rebuilding quicker than most teams usually do, they appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the Nets have struggled with no one knowing what direction they will go without any lottery draft picks.
This year, things have changed for the better in Brooklyn. The Nets have a better record than the New York Knicks and after they beat the Indiana Pacers on April 7, the Nets officially made the playoffs.
The beginning of the season was up and down for the Nets. However, things took a turn for the worst on November 12, when Caris LeVert, who was playing like an all-star the first few games of the season, suffered a severe leg injury.
Here on out, it was looking like another bad season for the Nets, who at one point lost eight straight games, leading to an 8-18 record. Then, on December 7 things looked good for the Nets again.
They got a win against the Toronto Raptors, who are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. This started a seven-game winning streak that helped bring the Nets back into the playoff race.
The Nets had an all-star this season in D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 21 points a game. On March 30, Russell dropped 20 points in the third quarter against the Celtics, which helped them win.
Russell was traded to the Nets back in 2017 by the Lakers after two seasons. One of the reasons why he was traded was because back in 2016, he recorded his teammate Nick Young confessing to cheating on Iggy Azalea, who he was engaged to at the time.
With the Nets, Russell has not only gotten better, but matured. Russell will most likely be a candidate as the most improved player of the year.
Another reason the Nets have done better this season is because of the play of Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie is a candidate for the sixth man of the year, averaging 17 points a game off the bench.
Another key player for the Nets was Joe Harris, who won the three-point contest during all-star weekend and is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. Harris struggled as a bench player on other teams before breaking out in Brooklyn.
What makes the Nets interesting is they did not draft from the lottery to become a decent team. Russell, despite being the second pick in the 2015 NBA draft, was drafted by the Lakers.
The Nets were able to build a solid team by trading for Russell in 2017 and signing good role players and making good draft decisions with their later draft picks.
The Nets will be underdogs in the postseason, with most people believing they will lose in the first round. The Nets are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
The Nets will have enough cap space to sign at least one of the big-name free agents this offseason. The Nets may not have the same draw as the Knicks or Lakers, but having a better record than both teams could appeal to someone.
The Nets still have some other unanswered questions, besides what key free agents they should sign. They still have to decide if they’ll resign Russell.