During times of uncertainty, we’ve taken several trips down memory lane to fill the basketball void. On this day last year, the Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff spot for the first time in three seasons following a win against the Indiana Pacers.
With Ian Eagle narrating, the video ought to bring chills to Nets fans all around. Eagle starts by saying, “What a story,” as the camera focuses in on D’Angelo Russell, the castoff from Los Angeles who became the lottery pick Brooklyn never had. They shift to Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff, then Nets players embracing each other and players on the opposing team. Eagle finishes the quick video by saying, “A tremendous turnaround for this organization.”
...— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 7, 2020
Nets clinch for the first time in 3 seasons. They never won more than 28 games in those 3 seasons. No picks. Little hope.
“What a story.. a tremendous turnaround for this organization.”
It was special for so many reasons. You look back at where the Nets started when Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson took over. They were a team recovering from a historically high luxury tax, zero draft picks, no free agents, few pieces to trade and simply very little hope.
They won 20 games the first season under Markinson; 28 the second season and then 42 in the third (and final) season under Atkinson. Not to mention, they won just 21 games the season before the two took over.
“They counted us out,” DeMarre Carroll commented on Instagram Tuesday afternoon.
Former Net DeMarre Carroll: “They counted us out...” pic.twitter.com/2RvN7541Jo— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 7, 2020
And he’s right. The Nets had minimal expectations entering the season. Then, after a somewhat decent start to their season, Caris LeVert went down in the most gruesome way. The Nets found themselves in an 8-18 hole with D’Angelo Russell falling in and out of the rotation in late situations.
It would’ve been easy for the Nets to tank when they were 8-18, but Jared Dudley called for a players-only meeting. The Nets went on to win seven straight games and 20 of the next 26 games. They finished the season 34-22 from that point on — 42-40 overall. They ultimately lost to Philadelphia in the first round in five games, giving more of a fight than anybody expected. It very well may have extended if the Nets close out Game Four on their home floor.
That team put the Nets organization on the map. It gave Marks and Atkinson the credibility needed to lure in free agents — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They basically gutted the entire team for those two in their pursuit for a championship, a move questioned by very few.
But things have certainly changed a whole lot in the past year. Atkinson is no longer the coach. Russell was traded to Golden State and then Minnesota. The other guys — Carroll, Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham, etc. have all moved on as well.
Like Frank Sinatra said, “It was a very good year.”
... And certainly a fun one.