Brian Lewis lays out some history Monday ... how NBA teams have fared after a preseason trip to Asia.
Over the past four years, the teams that made the China trek played to just a 41-39 record through their first 10 games before going 338-238 the rest of the way — or a 42-win pace compared to a 48-win clip.
And those teams didn’t have to cope with a week of international incidents, one after another, on their trips. The Nets being the Nets seemingly did everything they could to make sure the players coped well, starting with some prep work prior to leaving New York more than a week ago.
“Yeah, it’s definitely something we need to be well aware of and well-versed in,” said Sean Marks at his press conference on September 24, He said then that the organization had sports science experts drill the Nets on sleep deprivation, hydration and nutrition.
“I was fortunate that I’ve been on several teams that have done these trips before, and yes, you start off slow sometimes, definitely,” he noted.
“But at the end of the day, it’s what else are you getting out of these trips. You’re spreading the brand, spreading NBA basketball. It’s an incredible opportunity for our players to bond. They’re going to a foreign county where they’re going to be forced to sit down, break bread together … [have] life-changing experiences together.
“These are the things that are going to be just as important as winning a game in October or November.”
At that point, of course, he couldn’t have foreseen the anxiety that would accompany the Nets and Lakers after Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted out support for Hong Kong protests. At more than one point, the games themselves looked they were in jeopardy and by his own words, new owner Joe Tsai said that he was “in the eye of the storm” after an open letter to fans gained him support in China, but criticism in the U.S.
It’s hard to tell how the players felt about it all after first China, then the NBA, denied media access to players and coaches. The Nets, who arrived home Sunday at around 7 a.m., have the day off Monday, but at some point, they’ll be able to talk about it.
One player whose voice will be solicited by reporters will be Joe Harris, who has the added perspective of playing in China for Team USA for two weeks from the end to August through the middle of September. He can talk about both the physical and mental stress.
In between his trips, Harris spoke about the physical challenges.
“The travel definitely poses challenges,” Harris told The Post. “When we were coming back from USA Basketball, they’d talked about how it was going to take a week or so to really recover. We have basically from the 13th until the 23rd, obviously we have another preseason game … but the top priority is getting ready for regular season.
“We have a good amount of time. … We’re going to have a couple off-days. Then it’s about making sure guys are taking care of themselves, getting the right amount of sleep, eating correctly and hydration is of the utmost importance.”
Not to mention recovering.
The Nets of course do an advantage. Despite everything —including Kyrie Irving basically missing both games and Caris LeVert missing one— the Nets looked solid and ahead of schedule, particularly in the Shenzhen game where LeVert scored 22 points in 22 minutes and the Nets blew out the Lakers in the second half.
They play again Friday night at Barclays Center vs. the defending champs, the Toronto Raptors.
- China trip leaves Nets facing worrisome challenge - Brian Lewis - New York Post