So many analytics. So much negativity. So much change.
It's been a tough summer for Nets fans with a steady diet of punditry and analysis suggesting not just a lottery fate, but a race to the bottom with the Sixers. The Nets' roster has been called "putrid" by one national writer; and bottom five by several others.
Do we know what the Nets themselves think? It's not something players talk about publicly, but there are some hints that they think, as they should, that things are not so bad, that they have potential. Buried in a couple of interviews here and there is some optimism -- and privately, we hear there is some resentment as well about what they're reading/hearing.
In fact, culling those few public comments, you can hear the coach saying his team could be "very good" and his point guard saying it could be "special." Is that just summer talk? Could be. A way to whistle past the graveyard? Maybe. But they said it. It's on the record. It's on them.
Here's what Lionel Hollins told Mike Mazzeo... talking about expectations:
"My thing is we’re the Brooklyn Nets. We go to training camp and try to lay a foundation for the team to be successful. That’s my only thought process. It’s not about you have to prove this or you have to prove that. That’s for you guys in the media to debate. My expectation is we’re going to go out there and we’re going to be a very good team."
Here's what Jarrett Jack told Gary Washburn... talking about the role of veterans, including himself:
"We want other people to understand what it means to be part of Brooklyn basketball. You can’t wait until October if you want to be a special team. There’s going to have to be things you sacrifice, your personal time, to become one of those teams."
And of course, there was the owner's message ... vague as it was:
"One thing remains constant, and make no mistake about it: We are here to win, and we’ll do whatever we can, together with all of you who are working for us."
There's no doubt, as we've written, that everything has to go right in this "bridge year," as it's being described inside, for the Nets to be successful. That means making the playoffs. One thing has already gone wrong: the opening schedule is horrendous and with a team trying to gel, that's never a good thing ... particularly with so many young players not used to losing.
But before Celtics fans start salivating about their chances to get a high lottery pick with the Nets first rounder, there are 82 games to play. As Hollins told Mazzeo, "Everybody has a lot to prove. Everybody on the team has a lot to prove. We as a group have a lot to prove."
See you in October.
Can Jarrett Jack lead the new-look Nets? - Allen Robertson - The Brooklyn Game