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Should the Nets be considered Brooklyn’s expansion team?

Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ben Detrick, writing for The Ringer, thinks pundits have been too hard on the Nets. Not so much about prospects for this year, but for their future. As of a way of dealing with that disparity between short and long-term goals, Detrick proposes thinking of the Nets as Brooklyn’s “expansion team.”

He explains...

The 2016–17 Brooklyn Nets are the expansion team they never took the time to be four years ago. Your New Brooklyn Nets are bad, likable, and hopeful. Expectations, bloated salaries, and empty promises from Russian oligarchs are gone.

After visiting the Nets practice facility on a recent Saturday morning, Detrick has another analogy. Brooklyn, with its young prospects and new this-and-that, should be seen as a “penny stock,” as well

The Nets may lack upper-echelon prospects, but almost any young player on a bad team has the potential of a penny stock. He likely won’t amount to much, but he’ll have an opportunity to perform, and any tiny blip of promise is exciting.

Detrick seems to have bought into the Nets new culture. On his visit, he saw not a downcast lot, but a happy, positive clan.

There was the optimism of a fresh start — not only for the upcoming season, but also for a foundational shift.

He also sees the roots of change in the Nets system, pointing out that in preseason, the Nets pace is fourth in the NBA, compared to 20th last season. He notes as well that only the Rockets have fired up more three’s in preseason than the Nets. Detrick thinks that’s a good idea, but he keeps returning to the culture shift.

“There’s a great challenge of cohesiveness and communication,” he quotes Kenny Atkinson. “It’s exciting figuring all this out and building from the ground up. So far, so good.”

Detrick isn’t alone in his (somewhat) revisionist history. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated had something similar to say this week. Woo, a Brooklynite, lives within walking distance of Barclays Center and admits, a bit too sheepishly, that he regularly goes to Nets games.

On the scale of “crappy” teams, Woo puts the Nets closer to “charmingly awful” than “unwatchably sad.” He also claims that he knows the difference between Bojan Bogdanovic and Bogdan. He even likes that the Nets don’t have draft picks. No tanking for tanking sake!

They literally can’t tank. These guys are essentially auditioning for next year, in perpetuity. That divorce between results and process means zero pressure, which paves the way for random players to become a special kind of cult hero. There’s something existentially nice about aimless basketball for basketball’s sake, even when the crowds are way too quiet and the nosebleeds far too cramped.

Woo does like a lot about the experience, the aesthetics of Barclays Center, the Cubano sandwich at Habana, Jeremy Lin’s “ever changing coif” and “or some reason there’s a Captain America statue outside Barclays.”

So he advises fans should go to games. It’s basketball, after all.