The Brooklyn Nets won their sixth game in a row on Tuesday night and sit 1.5 games back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After missing the postseason the last three years, it’s a logical stepping point for a franchise that is working towards returning to contention.
And yet, the Nets really haven’t followed a natural rebuild at all. Those three season of missing the playoffs didn’t yield them any lottery picks, thanks to the infamous Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade in 2013, and they didn’t have any young talent on the roster before that because of a myriad of deals involving Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. This year will mark just the third time this decade Brooklyn has owned its own first-round pick since 2010.
The Nets have done well to stockpile talent in recent years by trading veterans to move into the bottom half of the first round, which is how they acquired Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They have also been a partner in a number of salary dumps, yielding them D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, and a pick from Denver in the upcoming draft. Combine that with finding Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris on the bargain bin, and Brooklyn has the makings of a decent supporting cast.
But NBA teams rely on superstar talent, and despite the progress LeVert had been making before an ankle injury derailed his season, that is still missing from the Nets roster.
This season seemed like the best opportunity for Brooklyn to acquire a star player through the draft. Again, the Nets own their first-round pick. This would be the time to tank and get a stellar prospect who could change the course of this franchise. However, Sean Marks, Trajan Langdon, and Kenny Atkinson don’t appear to see things that way, and as such, Brooklyn is making a playoff run.