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Through four games, Brooklyn’s offense looks... different

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Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

We’re only four games into the season, but Brooklyn’s offense is different... and not in a good way. While the defense has been the teams biggest issue, it appears the Nets have lost track of what their offensive principles entail.

Kenny Atkinson’s system is a motion offense that relies on off-ball movement, swinging the ball around the perimeter and getting into the half court set as early as possible. Nets teams in the past might not have been the most talented, but ball movement has never been a problem.

Until now.

The Nets find themselves in a situation where the ball isn’t moving and the offense has been stagnant. They’ve relied on Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie to create on their own through the first four games, and it hasn’t been pretty. Irving is averaging 25 field goal attempts, LeVert 16.5 and Dinwiddie 14. Compare that to last season, where D’Angelo Russell led the team in attempts per game at 14.8.

Atkinson spoke of his displeasure with the offense following a 10-point loss to Indiana.

“We’re not really running anything, said Atkinson. “In training camp you’re practicing a lot, you have nice flow, you kind of know what you’re doing. I think we’ve lost a little bit of our structure and organization, which is natural with a new team and new guys.”

The Nets currently rank third in points per game at 120.0, but the stat doesn’t tell the full story. According to NBA.com, the Nets are 24th in passes made and received and have the fourth highest frequency percentage of isolation at 8.9 percent — converting on just 30 percent of those shots.

“I think there were a couple of times where we came down and we were probably a little bit too reliant on Kyrie to make a play or Spencer to make a play or Caris to make a play,” said Joe Harris. “It’s a collective effort where we have to make everybody’s job easier and I think tonight, it was just a little bit of we were kind of standing around watching, honestly, and just hoping those guys would make plays.”

Harris, of course, has been around since Day One of the Markinson tenure. He’s had time to learn the offense and find his fit — so much so to where he became the best three-point shooter in the NBA last season.

Nobody is panicking about the offense, though. They’ve only played four games and it’s going to take time to gel and better understand the system.

“Like I said, I think we have to play with each other more, get to know each other more, get on the same page in all aspects,” said Atkinson.

“Just like that, it’s going to take some time just to know where everyone is, know that we have a mutual respect for each other out there on the floor,” said Irving. “But we still want to be aggressive, still got to put some points on the board. Just want to play smarter.”

It’s a concern, but not the biggest concern. The defense has been horrid and the Nets want to play at a fast pace by pushing the ball in transition and getting an easy bucket, preferably a three-pointer. It’s hard for them to do so when they can’t make a stop on defense.

So, while the offense is a concern, the Nets have bigger problems.

“To be honest, I think this was one of the first games this year where the struggles there offensively, but the defense has been the most problematic thing for us,” said Harris. The offense comes and goes. Nobody is too worried about that... The defense has got to be there. We have to be better defensively.”