The Brooklyn Nets 110-105 Loss to the Atlanta Hawks raises questions about head coach Kenny Atkinson’s decision-making skills.There is an overwhelming consensus that the Brooklyn Nets have the worst roster in the NBA. It’s a statement that is, unfortunately, legitimized by their league worse 11-52 record which includes four separate losing streaks of five or more games (7, 5, 11, 16).
However, there comes a point when you have to shift the focus of the team’s poor play from their inexperienced roster to a coaching staff that seems incapable of getting the job done.
Today is that Day!
Throughout the course of the season, the Nets have shown the ability to be competitive in the first half of games, standing toe-to-toe with the NBA’s best, but somehow have found a way to consistently fall apart down the stretch. Whether it’s an ill-advised shot or an unforgivable turnover, poor decisions are aplenty for the Nets and they always come at the most inopportune times.
The team’s latest loss marks the 18th time this season they have failed to close out a game after leading going into halftime. The Nets have been outclassed and to a lesser, but significant, extent out-coached on a nightly basis. The outcomes of their games are seemingly written before the team touches the floor. Nets fans watch as their team battles through three quarters only to collapse under pressure when the game is on the line.
After giving unwavering support to Kenny Atkinson and the system he is trying to instill, the time has come to question his decision-making ability in the waning moments of close games.
One Too Many Mistakes
In the Nets recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Atkinson missed a key teaching opportunity for his team. After fighting to get back into the game behind key plays from Brook Lopez, Isaiah Whitehead and Jeremy Lin.
Down 102-104 with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Brook Lopez came up with a potential game-changing block on a driving Dennis Schroder, giving possessions to Brooklyn. Atkinson had a split second to make the most important decision of the game: call a timeout and draw up a play or trust his team to catch Atlanta off guard and hopefully make the right play.
Atkinson chose the latter and could do nothing but watch as Sean Kilpatrick darted down the court towards him. Three seconds later, Kilpatrick is stripped by Dennis Schroeder, who rushed back on defense, ultimately sealing the Nets fate.
When asked about the outcome of the game Atkinson responded, “I think we have to use our decision making a little better…They turned us over and that’s what they do, they are top five in the league in turning teams over and we knew that was a key, we just didn’t do a good enough job.”
Atkinson Needs to do More
With the game on the line, it is the coach’s responsibility to make the right decision for the team. They are supposed to calculate the team’s best course of action based on the flow of the game and their understanding of their players’ strengths and weaknesses.
However, when needed most, Atkinson was merely a spectator.
The moment Kilpatrick’s hands touched the ball, Atkinson should have immediately signaled for a timeout. The Nets young and inexperienced roster needed his guidance and he was not there. Atkinson’s failure to act ultimately cost the Nets the game and that makes him responsible for the team’s loss. In order for the Nets to get better, Atkinson has to be better.
But He’s Not Going Anywhere
With that being said, building a winning culture from scratch is not an easy task. Kenny Atkinson, against the advice of close friends, has willingly taken on the largest rebuilding project in recent NBA history and that has to count for something. Although Nets fans have suffered through another horrid season and will likely have to face several more for the foreseeable future.
Kenny Atkinson seems like the coach to get them through these tough times, but only time will tell.