The Brooklyn Nets have now won two straight games and are seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-6. Going into this season, the Nets were expected to improve and start to win more games. Kenny Atkinson had already proven that he could coach up talent on a bad team, but he had yet to show that he could win games (48-116 overall record). At this moment, he is proving the doubters wrong.
Atkinson started his coaching career in 1990. Through a bunch of different organizations in the United States and overseas, he finally found his way to the NBA as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks, in 2008. After four years, he moved on to the Atlanta Hawks as an assistant and then in 2016 he came to Brooklyn to coach the Nets.
As head coach of the Nets, Atkinson has consistently brought a level of class to his team. He’s gotten the most out of his players and may now finally be able to take the next step, which is winning.
On this year’s team, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen have become the prominent players. Both were low first round picks that have been developed under Atkinson’s watch. Along with these two, is a rag tag of role players that have worked hard and are now beginning to show progress.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, cast offs of other NBA teams, have flourished with the Nets. When first arriving in Brooklyn, neither had played any significant minutes in the NBA. This year, Harris is shooting a blistering 55% from the three-point line and Dinwiddie is averaging 14.1 points off the bench. They’ve become excellent role players and Atkinson deserves a ton of the credit.
As the rest of the season plays out, it will be important for players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, D’Angelo Russell, and Allen Crabbe to also take their games up a notch. If they step up for Atkinson, like LeVert, Harris, Dinwiddie, and Allen have, the Nets could see their first playoff appearance since 2015.