Tony Brown was dealt a tough hand when he took over from his long time friend, Lionel Hollins on January 10. The team was a miserable 10-27 and had lost two starters, Jarrett Jack and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, to injury, Jack for the season, RHJ for more than 30 games.
Things started out slowly, 1-6 to be precise, but he preached a faster pace, better ball movement, etc. and over the last week or two, the team has played its best basketball of the season, winning three of its last five. Players are energized, particularly on offense. Every rotation player is shooting better and as a team, they've gone from 28th in three point shooting under Hollins to fourth.
A veteran assistant who's worked for eight teams, Brown has the team playing looser and happier. The added value of their new digs in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and the resolution of the GM search has also helped.
"Obviously, this building is incredible and the excitement with Sean coming on board — a guy who’s been a part of a winning organization — yeah, it’s looking up,’’ interim coach Tony Brown said. "To get a win [Friday] against a rival always helps, especially for the community. We’re trying to establish ourselves in this community, so all those things help. It’s a good moment with our team.’’
Bojan Bogdanovic noted the change in attitude in an Instagram post...
Of late, no one has reacted better to Brown's changes than Bogdanovic. Since Brown opened things up, the Croatian swingman has been on fire. He's shooting 48.6 percent (on 3.9 attempts per game) in the last 18 games, and in the last five, that number is an astounding 65.2 percent.
"He’s benefited from it," Brown said. "The ball seems find him in areas he feels comfortable. His confidence level is really high and he knows these are shots he can make. We’re also trying to work with him on putting the ball on the floor and attacking, which you kind of see a little bit of that in the game [Friday]. But he seems to be more comfortable, which is good for our team."
Overall, under Brown, the Nets are shooting 40.7 percent from the arc. Under Hollins, they shot 31.5 percent, going from third worst to third best. In fact, they're shooting the three better in the last 18 games than the Warriors. And four players are shooting better than 43.5 percent from deep under Brown: Bogdanovic, Joe Johnson, Donald Sloan and Markel Brown.
Other players have noted the sense of optimism and attribute it to the week's events ... and Brown, who hopes the rest of the season reflects well on him.
He told beat writers that he fully understands that his days as head coach might be numbered, but it hardly means his career is over.
"It’s not just an audition for Sean," he said of Sean Marks. "A lot of teams are looking to see how I’m doing in this position, so it’s a resume-type deal here that I can run a team and run it successfully . . . If I can improve the way they play over this period of time of the season, I think that will be a plus and a feather in my cap."