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Performance team gives Nets an advantage, particularly with older players

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Golden State Warriors v Toronto Raptors - Game Five Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Jared Dudley, who raves about the Nets performance and medical teams, talked recently about just how intensively the teams monitor a player’s health.

“They send you a text message every morning of how your body feels or what’s going on. You do testing on Mondays of your hamstrings, your hips, your glutes, and so they can tell each week if you’re fatiguing and need more rest or do you not need more rest. You have to wear a Catapult vest for your loads, for how you’re running, so they basically have numbers for everything. And that dictates how your practice schedule is going to be, what you need to do in the weight room, and so with all that information, you can help your weaknesses and keep going on your strengths. So I think it’s a huge advantage (in attracting other players).”

Two years ago, Joe Harris famously put it more succinctly. “They even track the color of your piss.”

Particularly older players, those over 30. Dudley, DeMarre Carroll and Ed Davis, the Nets 30 something set have all praised the teams during the season, with Carroll saying he wouldn’t have had the success he’s had in Brooklyn without them.

Now, with Kevin Durant looking at teams —and rehabbing from achilles surgery— the performance and medical staff has particular value in gaining Brooklyn an advantage over the Knicks, Clippers and Warriors, Ian Begley writes Saturday. The Golden State medical team has come in for criticism after they cleared KD to play in Game 5 of the Finals.

Dudley said during his own rehab from a calf injury this season that the Nets performance team must have 30 people looking out for players. Sean Marks said that might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one.

“I don’t think it’s quite 30 but it’s up there,” Marks said, smiling, during his end-of-season news conference.

The GM described his approach to the medical/performance staff this way:

”When we first embarked on this, it was we’re going to have to do things maybe slightly a little bit differently. We knew we weren’t going to have a plethora of high first round picks and so forth. So it’s about developing guys both on the court and off the court and teaching habits and so forth,” he said.

Development for the Nets didn’t just mean helping players with skills. It meant “prehab,” that is betting players in shape early so they are less prone to injuries, convincing them to change their diets and then when they do get hurt, focus on getting them healthy, not just ready to play.

It isn’t cheap. In addition to the $52 million in capital costs the Nets doled out for the HSS Training Center, the Nets have spent millions more since it opened in February 2016 in upgrading equipment of all sorts, from weight training to monitoring devices.

“Credit to ownership,” Marks added at his press conference back in April. “When they see a budget that maybe looks a little different than in the past where we’re going to have to spend money where maybe money hasn’t been spent before.”

And players get it, Marks noted.

“Our players bought in and we had the veterans come in here and they’ve seen it. You can read their social media and everything else. They’ve seen it from other teams. They’ve been around the block a few times. When they come here and say, ‘look, things are being done a little differently but you know what? At the end of the day I feel better than I ever have.’ that’s a credit to the performance team.”

In fact, after Begley posted his story Friday night, Spencer Dinwiddie turned to Twitter.

Kenny Atkinson agrees that older players benefit the most.

“At the end of the day, I know when I played, it was if I feel good I’m going to play good,” he said at that same press conference. Especially when you get older, Jared Dudley, if you feel good - they have the corporate knowledge, they understand how to play the game - but if you go out there and your body is feeling great you’re going to bring it and play well. I think we understand what that’s all about.”