In 2010 Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the New Jersey Nets, and abruptly cleaned house on the basketball operations side of the organization. He cleared out the head coach. Pushed out the GM. He set the tone that this will be a best in class organization by the year 2015. I stumbled on an article on ESPN that reminded me, why I'm so confident in what has taken place over the past 3 years of my favorite NBA franchise. The article is linked below, but it highlights teams like Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, and the OKC Thunder. The article discusses how these teams "really" use the draft as an integral part of their success. It didn't just talk about players. Yes, Durant, Westbrook, and Harden are amazing, but the organization is about so much more than that.
At the end of the day our immediate success is thoroughly linked to Deron Williams. But, whether Deron Williams re-signs or not, our long term success has nothing to do with him. Billy King is establishing an identity and a culture in our organization. We read the reports of team chemistry, and players wanting to come to Brooklyn and we assume it's because of all the positive buzz going on with the new brand, the new stadium, the new logo.
The truth is it's about so much more than that.
Billy King understand the NBA player. You hear it in how he talks about the moves he makes. You hear it in how Deron Williams and other players talk about him. It's why when you look at the team from top to bottom there is a true sense of family being built. It's why despite Brook Lopez being dangled in trade rumors for 3 seasons, there is nowhere else he wants to be.
At the end of the day we all understand this is a business. Players have to do what's best for them and their families. Jordan Farmar opting out, makes sense for him. He can sign a multi year deal, and get potentially more minutes in a more defined role. But, Farmar also is struggling in his decision to opt out, because a large part of him wants to be here.
If you look at where the Nets have come as an organization, you cannot compare this to what we were. Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov have changed our culture, even if the wins haven't followed yet. The Nets have become a first class organization. Beginning in November of 2012 the Nets will have a world class arena. The Nets have poured millions upon millions of dollars on a D-League affiliate partnership and countless dollars on a scouting network that reaches the end corners of the globe. Billy King recently said, he never had the global scouting opportunities in Philadelphia that he has here.
A quick look at our injuries over the past season shows we may still have some work to do, but I expect our training staff to become best in class as the next step in this process. Our new strength and conditioning coach Dr. Jeremy Bettle was hired on December 8th, 2011, so this is his first off-season with the Nets. Based on what we're seeing out of MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez, and Gerald Green, I'm optimistic that we will have very different fortunes in our injury log moving forward.
As fans we can debate moves in a vacuum. But, a step back to look at the big picture shows just how far we've come as an organization. Was Gerald Wallace worth the 6th pick in the draft? Maybe. Maybe not. The truth is, the 6th pick doesn't matter. Maybe it could have been used in a trade for Dwight Howard, maybe it couldn't. In the big picture, the New Brooklyn Nets are about so much more than that. We are not drafting to change our fortunes. We are drafting role players of need.
Tyshawn Taylor, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Williams, Gerald Green, Bojan Bogdanovich, and beyond.
These players represent cheap affordable, basketball talent. None of them are Kevin Durant. But, they all fill a role on this team, and they do it without taxing our salary cap. They are representative of the New Brooklyn Nets approach to the draft. Something the great teams in this league understand. We will fill around them with all-star level players like Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez. Perhaps even Dwight Howard. But we are no longer drafting Marcus Williams, Terrence Williams, Antoine Wright, and countless other failed draft picks, that we used to be excited about.
I see the organizational overlap between the great teams in this league and the Brooklyn Nets. I see the writing on the wall, and I'm more confident than ever that we're all about to watch our favorite NBA team lift off to a level that we have not experienced as Nets fans. I believe firmly, that our Brooklyn Nets, in 2012-2013 will have arrived.