Buried in the two recent profiles of Brook Lopez by Fred Kerber and Cory Wright are quotes from the Nets veteran on how impressed he is with the Nets "performance team," the group Sean Marks assembled to handle training, strength and conditioning as well as rehabilitation. Other players have said similar things on social media.
"Performance" hasn't gotten as much attention as free agency or draft picks, but as Lopez and the others have noted, it's been one of Marks biggest priorities and, they hope, will offer them an advantage.
Lopez lauded the group's diversity in Kerber profile, calling the team "an international work force" with "guys taking what they’ve learned all around the world, bringing it together in this eclectic fashion so we really have the best of the best.."
He thinks it's working. "We’re together and we’re doing it. Before, we’d have guys coming in, wouldn’t really get their treatment [or] their mobilization. And they weren’t necessarily on time. It’s the way it should be now."
Without criticizing those who came before, including long-time trainer Tim Walsh, Lopez told Wright, the Nets internal beat writer, that the Nets are now second to none in the NBA.
"The training group we have is the best in the world, the best strength and conditioning guy, best TP (Training and Performance) people, and they are just in there helping us find how we can work, how we can recover better, how we each individually move and tailor-making programs and workouts and rehab situations to help us become better, stronger players."
Lopez has not been alone. In social media, Chris McCullough, Sean Kilpatrick and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have all posted positive things about the team. Like this, posted on McCullough's Instagram account Thursday...
Veteran Randy Foye sees it the same way...
“When training staffs are successful, it’s when they are hands-on, on you every single day, that’s how you get the most out of a player,” he said. “You can’t be laid back and just let the player do whatever he wants, cause he doesn’t understand his body like the trainers do. These guys here are on you in a good way; ‘you gotta do this, you gotta foam roll, stretch, lift …’ and they are on you, they’re on you, they’re on you. They’re looking out for you.”
Why is it a big deal? Because the Nets want to integrate the various elements of performance with sports science and their connection to the Hospital for Special Surgery which in addition to being the naming rights sponsor for the team's training center is the team's official hospital.
From early on in his tenure, performance was a high priority for Marks, who especially wanted that global connection, noting when they were hired, "that will open doors for the Nets to have access to top performance programs and techniques from around the world."
In addition to Zach Weatherford, who Brooklyn hired away from the Navy SEALS, the Nets grabbed two other professionals with international experience: Dan Meehan as strength and conditioning coach and Aisling Toolan as director of physical therapy.
Meehan came to Brooklyn after serving the past six years as head strength and conditioning coach/sport scientist for the North Melbourne Football Club in Australia. Toolan, a native of Ireland where she played soccer internationally, has worked with U.S. Olympic athletes including gymnasts, fencers, wrestlers and weightlifters as well as athletes recovering from surgery at HSS.
They also promoted Lloyd Beckett, who had been an assistant trainer, to the top job. He and Toolan both hold doctorates in physical therapy, as does the Nets new assistant trainer, Sebastien Poirier, who comes from the Thunder. The team's other assistant last season, Ale Oliveira, will be the trainer for the Long Island Nets.
Will it result in a healthier team? That's the hope.