Sean Marks has accepted mission impossible. His goal: Fix the disaster former Nets general manager Billy King left behind in Brooklyn. King turned the franchise into the NBA’s laughingstock before “stepping down”. The generous exit term allowed to soften the public sting of dismissal. His trades for the underwhelming Deron Williams, the aging Joe Johnson and for the way-past-prime trifecta of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were an astonishing waste of young talent and draft picks that the new G.M., Sean Marks, must contend with.
Marks, the former San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager, has hopefully learned a lot from his tenure at that well-run organization. His performance in the 2017 draft, when he wheeled and dealed to assemble a promising young roster that included young players with a lot of potential, has fans feeling optimistic.
The new Nets starting line-up is likely to be Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Timofey Mozgov. In particular, a heavy weight sits on the shoulders of Russell, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2015 acquired from the L.A. Lakers after the Lakers picked up a new point guard, Lonzo Ball. Russell has yet to show his NBA potential, but he possesses the talent to emerge as a perennial All-Star for years to come. Of course, Russell arrives as one of the greatest Nets players in franchise history, Brook Lopez, departed. Marks realized he didn’t have a top pick in this year’s draft, so what did he do? He gave Brooklyn fans hope by trading for a 21-year-old guard who could be the straw that stirs the drink of a turn-around franchise.
Russell won’t have to carry the team by himself, though. Marks also grabbed 3-point specialist Allen Crabbe from Portland Trail Blazers, where he came off a disappointing season. If he can fine-tune that oft-errant long shot, he could deliver an impressive season for Brooklyn.
Russell, Crabbe and the freakishly athletic Hollis-Jefferson are the Marks’ core, but the team also has a quartet of young players — Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick, and 2017 first round center Jarrett Allen– eager to make an impact. If these guys bond through the highs and lows of this coming NBA season, they might just build a foundation for long-term success.
But let’s not forget about veterans Jeremy Lin, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll, each of whom have experience with successful teams and have enjoyed the NBA spotlight. The value of their mentorship to kids can make a huge difference.
Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, brought in with Marks to rebuild this horror show back into contention, is known as a very bright mind. He was mentored by arguably the greatest coach the NBA has ever seen, Gregg Popovich.
The whole, promising picture includes a smart GM making all of the right moves, a coach on the rise and a roster yet to reach the consider potential their talent suggests. Fans, of course, must temper their expectations – it’s likely to be another challenging season for the Nets – but if they can emerge even from the bottom of the cellar it will represent real progress.
Anything above that is gravy.