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A Deeper Look Into The Nets’ Early Season Struggles

Brook Lopez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Brook Lopez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)


NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets dropped to 0-5 after a 101-87 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.  They are off to their worst start since the 2009-10 campaign, when they managed to win just 12 games the entire season.  It is just the third time in franchise history the team has started a season with a 0-5 record.  Here’s a closer look into why the Nets have stumbled out of the gate in 2015-16:

Lack of 3-point shooting:  It’s no secret that the Nets weren’t going to be a good 3-point shooting team this season.  They lost three of their best shooters from last season, with Deron Williams, Mirza Teletovic, and Alan Anderson all playing elsewhere.  The team signed Wayne Ellington to help make up for the players they lost, but he has struggled from the field while playing limited minutes.  Both Jarrett Jack and Andrea Bargnani lead the team with a 33.3% 3-point field goal percentage, but neither attempts many outside shots.  As a team, they are just 19-for-78 from deep so far, and only seven players on the roster have connected on a 3-point shot.  Shooting 24.4% from long range isn’t going to win you many games in today’s NBA, where effective 3-point shooters are at a premium.  The team’s percentage is good for second-worst in the NBA.

Too many turnovers:  The Nets are turning the ball over at an alarming rate through their first five games.  They have amassed 77 total turnovers in five games, which is a big reason why they are struggling to win games.  They are a relatively new team, and the players are still getting to know one another.  So I do expect the turnover margin to shrink as the season wears on.

Paging Joe Johnson:  Joe Johnson has arguably been the Nets’ best player since they acquired him in a trade from the Hawks back in 2012.  He’s made clutch shot after clutch shot for the Nets, prompting former teammate Kevin Garnett to give him the nickname “Joe Jesus” two seasons ago.  However, at 34-years-old and in his 14th NBA season, his mileage may be starting to wear on him.  Johnson is off to a rough start this season, averaging just 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.  If he can get going offensively, things could take a turn for the better in Brooklyn.

Inconsistent point guard play:  Deron Williams may have had a tough tenure in Brooklyn, but the team was still way better off with him on the court.  In his three and a half seasons with the Nets, they often struggled when he was on the bench or out of the lineup with various injuries.  The three point guards on the roster are Jack, Shane Larkin, and Donald Sloan.  All three players are journeymen who are still looking to find their permanent NBA homes.  Jack is the starter and is putting up decent numbers, 12 points and six assists per game, but he can be erratic with the basketball sometimes.  He leads the Nets with 2.8 turnovers per game.  Larkin could still develop into an effective NBA point guard, but right now none of them give the Nets what Williams once did when he was healthy.

Coaching:  First and foremost, Lionel Hollins needs to do a better job of managing the minutes of some of his players.  Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has played just 15 minutes in the past two games.  He has helped the Nets immensely during his time on the floor and needs to see more playing time.  Brook Lopez is far and away the best player on the team, and has either sat on the bench for extended minutes during crunch time or isn’t getting the ball as much as he should when he is on the court.  The Nets may not be the most talented team in the NBA, but Hollins needs to improve in order to get the most out of his roster.

Second half implosions:  The Nets have been a respectable team in the first half of games, but have been unable to carry momentum into the third and fourth quarters. Contest on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks and Wednesday against the Hawks were close in the second half, but the Nets have been unable to sustain a lead with the game on the line.

Bright spots:  Don’t worry, Nets fans, it isn’t all gloom and doom with this team.  Lopez is healthy and playing at an All-Star level, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the field.  Hollis-Jefferson has also turned heads in his limited time on the floor.  He creates turnovers and plays tough defense, leading to more transition buckets for the Nets, which is something they haven’t been very successful with in recent years.  Bojan Bogdanovic also seems to be adjusting nicely to his role coming off the bench.

Keep in mind that the Nets owe their unprotected 2016 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics, so they have to start winning basketball games.  If they don’t, they could give a potentially very good player to a division rival if they find themselves at the top of the NBA draft lottery next June.   The Nets are fortunate because they play in the Eastern Conference.  If they can string together a few victories, they’ll be right back in the playoff race.

The Nets will look to earn their first win of the season when they face the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Friday.

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Jason Goldstein is a co host of the Baseline Jumper NBA podcast, recording every Tuesday night along Ben McDonald. Jason has also spent time as the Basketball Editor at while also handling the Brooklyn Nets Lead Writer duties since October 2015.
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