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Good system, but not the talent to drive it

NBA: Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Neil Greenberg characterizes himself as someone who “analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.” And on Tuesday, he wrote an analytics-heavy piece for the Washington Post on how he thinks the Nets are doing the right thing but simply don’t have the horses to be rewarded with wins.

Kenny Atkinson, he writes, “has installed a modern basketball philosophy based on analytics, replacing isolations and post-up plays with a fast pace that includes open three-point shots, drives to the rim and a transition-focused offense.”

He notes as well that the Nets rank “first in pace (103.9 possessions per 48 minutes), second in drives per game (34.8), third in three-point attempts per game (32.8) and sixth in free-throw attempts per game(25.2). Last season the team was in the bottom 10 in each of those categories.”

That’s all well and good (and we all pretty much know it) but the team is 8-25, the worst team in the NBA when you look not at the analytic spreadsheet but the standings.

What do the Nets need to utilize Atkinson’s system so that the team wins more games? Pretty simple. He quotes two NBA scouts who think Brooklyn is headed in the right direction but agree “the roster needs an influx of talent to gain traction in the playoff race.”

And of course, there’s the defense, which might work better if the Nets were more athletic, but they’re not. Moreover, he notes (and we have seen) that the “D” is getting worse, not better.

Bottom line for Greenberg: “the team now has an identity and a blue print. Now they just need the talent to execute that plan.”

That of course raises the question, does Atkinson run the same system with better players or will it change if he got better players? We may not know for a while.