In an interview with a Mexican basketball site, Kenny Atkinson described the Nets as a “start-up” that is built on hard work and long hours.
The second year coach also told Viva Basquet that Caris LeVert and Joe Harris are his two biggest gym rats; Spencer Dinwiddie is tops in conditioning work, Jarrett Allen is the most serious and two veterans, DeMarre Carroll and Quincy Acy, are the funniest.
“Joe Harris and Caris LeVert are really stuck in the gym,” Atkinson told the site’s Israel German, according to a machine translation. “With Caris we have to go to get out of the gym at 2 in the morning.”
In the weight room, it’s Dinwiddie. “Spencer is very consistent and takes care of his body,” he said.
The most serious and funniest? Atkinson had no problem naming both.
“Our rookie Jarrett Allen would be (the most serious). I say 'smile, enjoy this.' But that's his personality, he's introverted and very quiet, but he's young...
“DeMarre is crazy, Quincy Acy is wrong in the head, but in a good sense of the word. But they are both very funny guys.”
Atkinson had high praise for Harris as someone who’s worked hard and is now seeing the fruits of his labors.
“Joe Harris had been out of the NBA, the Cavs cut him, last year he had problems with an injury and this year I think he's playing at another level, he's an important player in our system, and this is the happy stories, this it's what it's about and I hope that happens with all our players.”
In a separate interview with German, Harris talked about what Atkinson expects of him: focus on your strengths.
“I think my role has been very consistent throughout the year, what he has told me is that he wants us to do the simple things,” Harris noted.
“I am aware of my strengths, I try to play intensely on the defensive end, make it difficult for opponents, and offensively, I try to help open spaces on the court, avoid having turnovers, and be opportunistic, help the facilitators we have on the team.”
Both he and Atkinson said this year has been remarkably better than last.
“Last season was very difficult, we just won 20 games, we were the worst team in the NBA,” added Atkinson. “But I think that this year several of our players are taking a leap, we have improved, we have incorporated some pieces as well, and that is the plan, to develop young players to keep improving.
“Obviously we do not have many Draft selections, but we will continue sticking to the plan, we still need a lot but I think we are doing well, the team is competitive, they are playing better, they share the ball. I also think our fans have been patient.”
Harris said the team knows they don’t have a superstar but believe there are ways to compensate.
“If we all play together — because we do not have that super star that other teams have and play together and in the right way —we tend to be successful,” said Harris, before noting how much he enjoys playing in the Nets system.
“It is also fun to play in an organization like this because everyone has the opportunity and one day a player can be the one who has a great performance, statistically speaking, and then [next day] it can be another. Nobody cares who gets the credit but the team wins and does it well.”