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Aldridge: Brooklyn Nets had NBA’s second best off-season

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Boston Celtics v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Athletic’s David Aldridge has been ranking teams’ off-seasons for years, first at and TNT and now The Athletic. He’s out with his latest and he’s got the Nets at No. 2, behind the Clippers.

Aldridge said he looked at :everything, from how they drafted to what trades they made, to significant free-agent signings and to whether they participated in free agency much at all. I looked at coaching changes, new GMs, new buildings that could generate significantly more revenue going forward, or practice facilities that are now online. I then decided which ones I liked the most.”

So here’s what he wrote about Brooklyn... breaking it down, as he did with the other 29, by “Key Man,” what player, executive or coach who played a big role, and Skinny, his analysis...

THE KEY MAN: Dinwiddie. With Russell gone to the Bay, Dinwiddie could lay claim to again being the starter at the point, as he was in Brooklyn for most of the 2017-18 season — especially since Dinwiddie reportedly was a major lobbyist in Durant’s decision to come East. But with Irving also on the squad, Dinwiddie has to again be the good soldier and think about what’s best for the team. Which he no doubt will do, as he is one of the legit good guys in the game.

THE SKINNY: They were in and then out, out then in, but at the end of the day the “other” team in New York had the juice to land the biggest fish in this summer’s NBA ocean. And the only reason Brooklyn isn’t number one overall is that Durant will be on the shelf, probably, for all of his first season on the East Coast, rehabbing his torn Achilles.

That does not in any way mean Brooklyn was wrong to sign KD. As I’ve written, his game has never been one to depend all that much on speed or jumping. He gets where he needs to get, and he’s 7 feet tall. There aren’t too many people that are going to block his shot, and as he gets older, I suspect he’ll work more in the post or baseline and still be a very efficient offensive player.

This year, with Durant out, it’ll be Irving’s show, and you’ll likely see him on his best team-building behavior as he tries to show that last year’s implosion in Boston wasn’t all his doing. There will be hiccups along the way as there are any time someone new and that ball-dominant comes to a team. But Irving should thrive in Kenny Atkinson’s system just as Russell did, and the Nets should rise up toward a top-four finish in the east as a result.

As Aldridge says, the Nets would have been No. 1 if KD had been healthy, but also, the Clippers gave up five first round picks to pair Paul George and Kawhi Leonard while the Nets essentially came up neutral. It gave up a first in this year’s draft as part of the Allen Crabbe salary dump, but also got a protected first in the double sign-and-trade that brought KD to Brooklyn. (The Nets also gave up a pick to acquire Taurean Prince.)

New York’s other team finished 19th; the Celtics 25th; the Warriors 29th.