By Pat Costello
The buzz surrounding the New York Knicks coming into this season was at an incredible level. The newly acquired Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were going to be the saviors of basketball in the Big Apple. Chicago’s Batman and Robin were finally coming to Gotham. Yet, their time here has been marred by the turbulent relationship between Phil Jackson and the players as well as the group’s inability to win meaningful games. This iteration of the Knicks is more like 1997’s Batman and Robin than anything else.
However, in Brooklyn, the Dark Knight rises in the form of the Nets. Although they are still recovering from what can only be described as the worst trade deal in basketball history, which saw them give up multiple first round picks for two aging superstars, the Nets are headed in the right direction. Granted, they have the worst record in basketball right now and the Celtics hold the rights to their first round pick in the upcoming draft, but that is small potatoes when you look at the big picture.
Currently, the Nets have a plethora of young talent, mixed with veteran talent. Rookie Caris LeVert has shown tremendous upside in his first month on the hardwood. The Michigan graduate may have shown up to the combine on crutches, but was spot on in his letter to NBA teams saying that he would make a full recovery. He’s currently averaging about seven points per game, but has a tremendous scoring ability.
Isaiah Whitehead, a Brooklyn native, has also shown that he has a chance to be a tremendous pro. Although he is raw compared to LeVert, he has shown a propensity to be a dynamic talent. Some of his instincts offensively aren’t exactly what one might want to see from a guard and his defense is lackadaisical at times, but with the right guidance those aspects of his game can be honed and tightened.
The veteran leadership brought to the team by guys like seven-time All-Star Brook Lopez and double-double machine Trevor Booker has been instrumental in molding this team so far. They are able to keep the locker room motivated and excited about every game, which shows on the court.
They’ve lost 23 games by 10 or fewer points, and another three by 12. The Nets are a very competitive team, even if their 9-34 record would not lead you to believe so.
The Nets have a high ceiling, despite the fact that the aforementioned draft pick catastrophe seems like a daunting barrier. They have guys that could potentially be moved for picks in the future, such as Lopez, Jeremy Lin or Bojan Bogdanovic. Teams will be looking to beef up their rosters to make a post-season run and if the Nets upper management is smart, anyone over the age of 25 will be available.
Good basketball in Brooklyn is something that Nets fans have been yearning for since they arrived half a decade ago, but the current team is not quite ready to take them to the promised land yet. In other words: they are the team Brooklyn deserves, just not the one they need right now.