The Nets are solidly in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference after a 29-point drubbing of the Sacramento Kings on Monday in Brooklyn. In spite of the disastrous trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that left them without three first round draft picks, the Nets have managed to cobble together a roster with a number of quality young players.
Part of that is due to savvy asset acquisition from Sean Marks and the front office, but a lot of it is because the player development program in Brooklyn headed up by head coach Kenny Atkinson — one of the assistants that helped the Atlanta Hawks restore a number of careers — is among the best in the league.
Spencer Dinwiddie has become one of the best sixth men in the league, earning himself a three-year extension in the process. Jarrett Allen is steadily getting better in his second season, is a monster on the boards, and seems to make a highlight every night with either a huge dunk or a block. Caris LeVert was an emerging star before dislocating his ankle, but he appears to be another diamond in the rough from the back end of the first round. Joe Harris has become one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters after never really looking like much of an NBA player in his first two years in Cleveland.
The most interesting young player on the roster, however, is D’Angelo Russell, the former second overall pick of the Lakers who was sent to Brooklyn in 2017 to help L.A. unload Timofey Mozgov’s contract and make way for Lonzo Ball to take over as point guard. After battling a knee injury that forced him to miss half the season last year, Russell has flashed the talent that made him such a coveted draft prospect four years ago.