Mob mentality is term used to explain how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, or form specific opinions. One of these popular opinions in the NBA offseason is that the Brooklyn Nets will be the worst team in the league this season, which gives Jeremy Lin another motivational push heading into 2016-2017.
It’s hard to find a popular media outlet that doesn’t see the Nets, a team that won 21 games last season, as the worst team in the NBA. All they see is Brook Lopez and that’s it. Yes, Lin has been getting some praise for his work last season, but most don’t view him as a point guard who can upgrade a team as a starting point guard (finally). They also don’t see anyone the Nets can build on for this season to step up as a scorer, leader, and player to build around for the future.
Some of those have a point. The Nets are lacking in high quality players. What they mostly have is either limited guys who have a very clear ceiling they can’t break through, and a lot of youngsters who no one knows how good they can be. And this is where the Lin factor comes in, as he takes on the role of both playmaker and somewhat of a veteran. Leader? He was that from the moment he stepped on the floor for the New York Knicks back in 2012.
The Nets, unlike other teams like the Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings and the Philadelphia 76ers, have a very clear vision of what they want to be. Believe it or not, actually having a clue about how their offensive scheme will look like goes a long way, instead of just adding random players to the roster and hoping it gels before scrapping it up and pressing restart. The Kings have been in this situation for a long time. The Magic a little bit less. The Sixers put themselves in this mess no purpose, and won’t find an answer until they trade some of their big men. The Phoenix Suns are also in the “find out” kind of stage with a new head coach as well, and the Los Angeles Lakers have also ended a tanking period without knowing what’s next.
And again, the key will be finding out who to build on, and what areas should they improve, be it by trades or in the offseason, with finally having a draft pick to use, and plenty of cap space going forward. The Nets have plenty of wings players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Sean Kilpatrick, Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson that they need to discover how to split the minutes, assign roles, and eventually, decide who to keep and who isn’t worth their while.
Obviously, that doesn’t sound like a recipe to make the playoffs, but it’s not that bad of a start as some people think. Lin is terrific to be a facilitator on a team with young and athletic players who need a much better passer, with vision, than before, to help them knock down open shots. Lopez draws attention in the paint. Lin is terrific at causing mayhem with his penetration. Nets shooters will have open looks, plenty of them.
Will the Nets finish at the bottom of the league? Personally, I don’t think so. Unknown, new teams are hard to predict. But I think the Nets are better than they were last season, and it’s not like the whole Eastern conference got better while leaving the Nets behind. Playoffs? It will take something very special to make it happen. But the Nets will probably be happy with a 30 win season or more, especially if it helps them identify the players they take forward on this venture.