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Alternative Wins: How the Nets measure success

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Shlomo Sprung, writing for The Comeback, spoke to Kenny Atkinson and a number of Nets players about the season, about how professionals measure success in a season when wins are rare and the losses continue to mount.

It’s about improvement, development ... and from what Sprung writes, they’ve all bought in.

“We didn’t set any goals by trying to go out and win a championship or something like that,” Trevor Booker told The Comeback. “We’re measuring everything by how we improve during the season.”

How does that work?

“If our expectations were based off of wins and losses, obviously we’d be in a pretty tough spot right now,” Joe Harris added. “They don’t treat it like we’re the worst team in the NBA. It’s more the fact that our main focus is coming in — whether practice, or game or whatever’s going on that day — the focus is on that day and trying to improve and get better.”

It takes a certain kind of player, Atkinson admits. And a culture.

“First of all, I measure it in attitude and buy-in,” the head coach said. “We obviously have some issues we have to get over, but I like the buy-in, I like how hard the guys are playing, the style we’re playing. That being said, we’ve got a long way to go to get over the hump.”

“The hump,” of course, is a series of franchise records for ineptitude that keep piling up: most straight home losses, most straight losses by fewer than 10 points, most straight games giving up 100 or more points, etc. etc.

Can this possibly be rewarding for men who have built their lives around winning at a high level? Winning is certainly the ultimate reward, but Sprung finds that the team, while not accepting the losses, understand what’s going on in large measure because they’ve been told. There is a trust.

“The way management and coaches connect with the players is something that every player basically wants,” Sean Kilpatrick told Sprung. “To really have that type of security and knowing basically, I’m home now, this is a home for me… Everyone here has a different perspective on how things should be ran here. That’s a type of coach that you want to be a part of.”

That would suggest the Nets don’t intend to do much at the trade deadline, that continuity and development are highly valued in this environment, this culture. And wholesale turnover doesn’t help either.

“Obviously, we’re all competitors in here and we all have our egos and arrogance at moments. But for the most part, everybody stays very positive and we’re all encouraging of one another.”

They would have to be.