In the past, the general rule in the NBA is that there are three ways to improve your team: the draft, trades, and free agency. For an increasing number of teams, and specifically the Nets, there’s now a fourth: development.
With their limited resources, the Nets decided early on that they’d need a heavy dose of development to reach their long-term goals. It wasn’t a choice. It was a demand.
What do the players think of the team’s emphasis on development? We culled a number of recent interviews with Nets players and grabbed what they had to say about the team’s development culture.
“Coming into the NBA, you hear, ‘You’ve got to work on a lot on your own. They’re not going to be there for you,’ This staff has been amazing with that. They’ve been there every step of the way...
“I remember when I first walked in to meet Kenny and Sean it was me and my family, and Kenny had a meeting with all of us and they just told me how invested they were in me. The vision they had for me.
“They even talked to my family and told them all of that, so you feel a sense of being wanted, being a part of what they’re building here. It seems like a big part of the culture here.”
“The coaching staff has been first-class and this has been the best organization I’ve been on to date. They really pay attention to development, they inspire confidence and try to build for the future. It’s just nice to have that tenor and positive work environment.”
“I certainly hope I’m helping [build the culture]. They talk about hard work, development, high character, and those are things people associate with me. I would hope I exemplified some of those traits.”
“The program’s great. Just the structure, the organization, everything that they have in place is phenomenal and we believe in it. I think that’s the biggest part, believing and trusting in a process, which makes things a lot easier for their side and ours. Because when you’re aligned, I feel like that’s when you get the best out of everything.”
“I think I fit into the category of being here last year and then making improvements over the summer. A lot of that is the emphasis that Sean and Kenny have put on skill development and individual development. I’m a byproduct of that, as is Caris, Rondae, Spencer. We’re all here and got a lot better. We improved from a skills standpoint, but then physically our performance staff did a good job as well making improvements athletically and from a health standpoint...
“They kind of developed you for the system, you could actually take these skills somewhere else, but do you feel being in this system for several years consistently would be in the best interest for you.”
“Obviously we’re really big with player development here. And you can see that with the guys on the team. You know how everybody’s developed. And they do it in a really positive way, a really fun way. And obviously Kenny’s a really good coach. So going forward we can’t wait to continue to get better and continue to get better with that theme and see where it takes us.”
“That’s pretty cool honestly, not the fact of having that many coaches, but as far as knowing there’s some type of security and there’s going to be repetitive guidance from a coach that you know you’re going to be around, I think it’s great.”
“It’s crazy because I never did leg weights in my nine years in the league. I never focused on the bottom half of my body. This performance team gets all the credit because they kept me here and made me do the work, made me do the work at the game when I didn’t want to.
“My player development coach Jordan Ott was really big for me, helping me minimize the game and helping me do what I do well. I feel like this is my best season not only physically, but mentally. I think it’s hats off to the player development team and the performance team.”
None of this was by accident. And it’s likely that development will become part of the Nets recruiting pitch, particularly for those mid-level players, “diamonds in the rough,” as Sean Marks calls them. And expect the biggest advocates of the Nets system to be the players.