Evaluate the first half of the season however you’d like, but the only thing that really matters is that the Brooklyn Nets are 19-40 at the All-Star break. As Bill Parcells used to say, “you are what your record says you are.”
The Nets weren’t playing that bad in the beginning of the season. They were 15-22 and stood just four games out of the eighth seed in the East. They’re 4-18 ever since and sit just one game out of last place in the NBA.
NetsDaily spoke with four members of the Brooklyn Nets, based on who they are and what their role is with the team. We spoke with success story and starting point Spencer Dinwiddie, big money player Allen Crabbe, veteran DeMarre Carroll, and rookie Jarrett Allen.
Each offered a different perspective and reflected on the first half of the season, both on the good and bad.
“The good is that we’re on the cusp of matching our win total from last year, which I think is huge for the improvement of the organization,” Dinwiddie told NetsDaily. “Other than that, it’s been 12 games that we’ve lost by five points or less, so if we get even half of those then we’re in playoff contention.
“We got to improve in the area of finishing games but something like this depends on perspective. This can be an optimistic outlook because we aren’t getting blown out like we were last year, we’re showing that we can compete with the best of them night in and night out, we just have to get better at closing out games.”
Dinwiddie, ever the optimist, feels the record doesn’t do his teammates justice. He feels the Nets are right there with other playoff teams, despite sitting one game out of last place.
“Like I said, 12 of those games were lost by five or less and not to harp on it – I gave up on this about a month ago – but the Last Two Minute reports will say that we have at least five or six more wins. Five or six games in this league are huge and that’s only half,” said Dinwiddie.
“Now think if we got all of them. That’s close to 30-35 wins and things would be completely different. I don’t know who has 30 wins right now but I’m sure they’re in playoff contention. There’s nothing you can do about it [officiating] but learn and get better. Hopefully we can get to 30 [wins].”
Dinwiddie has emerged as a legitimate player in this league, averaging 14 points and seven assists in 29 minutes per game. And despite that obvious maturity, he’s only 24-years-old.
“I’ll say the good, despite the record, despite the losing streak, despite the inconsistency; I still feel like we’re heading in the right direction as an organization. You know, everything Brooklyn stands for, things like us competing every night and sticking to our principles. I know last year was only 20 wins and we’re right there, man,” Crabbe told NetsDaily.
“I feel like we’ve put ourselves in a lot of good situations to win, but we’ve struggled to close it out. The bad I’d say is the inconsistency, even on my end. We keep having these slow starts and we’re not shooting as well as we should. But we’re not far away, man. We’re not far away.”
Then, Crabbe was asked if he feels like the Nets are a team that’s on the brink of sitting in last place.
“Damn, I didn’t even know that,” said Crabbe. “It doesn’t feel like it the way we’ve been playing and competing. We really don’t feel like a last place team, but we got to just keep looking at the bigger picture. We got to keep getting better every game and make sure we stick together. I know sometimes when you get this many losses, teams will start to break away from each other, stop trusting each other, but even the vibe around here is good. We’re all still pushing each other and staying on the same page, we just got to get wins.”
Crabbe has been inconsistent for a player making $19.3 million, but he remains optimistic about himself and the direction of the team. He continues to improve in other areas besides his shooting. His defense and rebounding have been a major point of emphasis for the 25-year-old.
“I see a lot of positive,” said Carroll, who often sees the big picture for the rebuilding Nets. “We play really good basketball when we’re healthy. We’ve beaten some elite teams in this league, but the bad is that we’ve also been beat up at times. You feel it when you don’t have a full roster and you go up against some of the best teams. There’s been good and bad, man. Certain guys are developing which has been great, but injuries have really shown the bad.”
Carroll, 31, is having perhaps the best season of his career, averaging 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds on 41 percent shooting. He has become the ultimate culture guy or as the guys call him in the locker room, “Big brother.”
“It’s been good despite all the injuries,” said Allen. “We haven’t had a full team since day one when Jeremy [Lin] went down, but I feel like we’re improving. Small improvements in every area at least.”
He feels the same way the rest of the team does. They aren’t a last-place team.
“I don’t feel like we are a last place team, even though we actually are, because every night we’re out there working hard and giving it our all. I feel like our effort isn’t showing our position in the standings.”
Taking what all four of them said and putting it together, you sort of get the gist as to why things have gone south. They like who they are, the gritty young team, but they can’t finish. They aren’t making excuses, rather just giving a firsthand perspective of why things are the way they are.
You can chalk the 19-40 record up to a whole lot of things. There were serious injuries from day one... literally. Jeremy Lin suffered a ruptured patella tendon in the first game. Out for the season. In fact, over the last two seasons, the Nets roster has been healthy for exactly two games, last March 2 and Opening Night of this season.
D’Angelo Russell received arthroscopic surgery after 12 games. He was playing some of his best basketball of his career, averaging 21 points per game. He’s back now after missing 24 games, but it’s been a tough adjustment.
Not to mitigate the severity of these issues, but injuries happen to every team. It’s unfortunate, but it’s no excuse.
You can blame the officiating, which some Nets have done. The Nets have qualified for 23 Last Two Minute reports already this season. They qualified for 23 all of last season.
Furthermore, L2M reports show that the Nets have been on the wrong end of the call 28 times in the final two minutes this season. They’ve been on the right end for 14 calls. Essentially, the Nets get a call for every two times they get screwed over.
Again: No excuses, but their complaints seem legit.
They’ve shown that they can compete with some of the best teams in the league. They’ve brought games down the wire, having lost 12 games by five points or less. Aside from their putrid defense, the biggest flaw has been their inability to start games, followed by their inability to finish them.
It’s become a recurring theme with this team. They get off to bad starts and trail by double digits in the first half. They stay persistent, play their style and eventually come back. But in the end, they are young and inexperienced.
All in all, it’s about the bigger picture. Injuries happen, missed calls happen. It’s part of the game. Losses are going to mount when you’re rebuilding. It hasn’t been easy and nobody said it would be easy. But overall, they think they’re heading in the right direction, like Crabbe said.
“We’re not far away, man. We’re not far away.”