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DeMarre Carroll talks progress, line-ups, at Nets practice

Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Having spent a season now in Brooklyn, DeMarre Carroll thinks he sees something new. He believes the Nets have improved significantly from where they were at this point last season, when a good deal of the core was younger and less experienced.

“I definitely believe we got a lot better, a lot of guys, their game has matured,” offered Carroll on Monday, seven days after similarly praising Caris LeVert. “We play really hard. That’s one thing we’re going to pride ourselves on is playing hard, running, getting up and down, using our youth. Hopefully, we can take that into the preseason and build on it.”

But now, LeVert’s ballyhooed step forward could move Carroll – the Nets starting 3 for most of last season – to a bench role. Carroll says he wouldn’t mind and isn’t too concerned with rotations.

“I don’t worry about that,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what coaches do. That’s his job is to put the best lineup on the floor. We definitely are going to play a lot of small ball. It’s interchangeable. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to put the guys on the court who are going to help us win and who are going to help us compete at a high level.”

In fact, Carroll spent a lot of time playing the 4 in Monday’s practice with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson still “integrating” after his off-season injury. (Atkinson also noted he even had Rodions Kurucs putting in minutes at the 5!)

Carroll also appreciate that the Nets have brought in more 30-somethings, like 33-year-old Jared Dudley and (almost 30) Ed Davis, to handle veteran leadership duties, along with Carroll.

“It’s just great to have another voice. I know these guys are tired of hearing me, hearing my mouth all the time,” he said with a smirk. “It’s just great to have another person who’s been through the fire and understands what it takes to win. So we can hit guys from different angles. Some guys might not listen to me. Some guys might listen to Jared. Some guys might not listen to Jared but might listen to me. So, it’s just good to have a variety for these guys on and off the court.”

So what are the expectations from the veteran swingman (who is entering a contract season)? Just to be better, he says. Carroll chooses to measure improvement, not exclusively in wins and losses, but just overall game play.

“I think you can measure that throughout the season,” he said. “Those late games where we were losing, like 25 late games. Hopefully if you win half of those the regular schedule would be better. I think he (Sean Marks) brought in a lot of guys that can help us with that. Those couple of rebounds we missed, Ed Davis maybe can get those. A guy like Shabazz (Napier) can come in and give us a spark. We definitely got key guys that can come in and help us. We’ve just got to put it all together.”

As for playoff predictions, don’t expect much from Carroll in that department.

“We’re not focused on that,” he admits. “I think when you start putting pressure on yourself about the playoffs that’s when a lot of the distraction comes in. All we’re focused on is getting better and improving. We want to be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning of the year. We can’t focus on (any) seed right now. All we can focus on is getting better.”