Will D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie play well together?
Russell and Dinwiddie are two of the better players on the roster. If the Nets want to reach their full potential, these two will need to mesh better than they did last year. When Russell was sidelined, Dinwiddie stepped up in his absence and played the best basketball of his career. But when both were healthy, they didn’t quite have the chemistry you’d like to see from two of the better players on the team.
The talented guards rarely shared the floor and when they did, there was little cohesion between the two. Both Russell and Dinwiddie are at their best when they have the ball in their hands. We can double check the rule changes taking effect this year, but I believe they are still using one ball this season. That means both players will have to learn how to operate without the rock.
Atkinson began using these two together a decent amount in the preseason. There is enough talent there to make things work. Atkinson may have to get creative with his scheme, but you can expect these two to fare much better in year two together than they did in year one. More time on the court together should help fix their chemistry issues.
Can they play well enough to attract a major free agent signing in 2019?
This seems to be the million dollar question around the NBA and more specifically, in the five boroughs. Much like their crosstown rivals, the Nets are angling to be a major player in free agency next summer. The Nets may have the most enviable salary cap situation in the league. They should have enough flexibility to sign two max-level free agents, but can they pull off signing one major free agent?
It’s clear that the Nets need a star to coalesce around if they want to roll with the big boys like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors in the East. There are a lot of reasons for free agents to find Brooklyn desireable. They have a coach who employs a fast-paced, high-scoring offense with a group of role players readymade to surround a star. The Nets also play in the biggest media market in the country which won’t be the deciding factor for any player, but it’s a factor nonetheless.
But if the Nets truly want to attract a major free agent next summer, they need the answer to the next question to be yes. If not, they may have to settle for less than a true star.
Will they make the playoffs?
The playoffs are the goal for this team. Plain and simple. The season won’t be a complete failure if they fail to qualify, but it will certainly feel like a letdown. Their bid for a major free agent (or two!) could be heavily influenced by whether or not Brooklyn makes the playoffs. If the Nets make the playoffs without a bonafide star, imagine what they could do with someone like Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard leading the charge?
It all depends on whether or not D’Angelo Russell finally lives up to the hype. If he has a standout season, the Nets will sneak into the playoff picture as the seven or eight seed with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 wins. If Russell has another year where he fails to put it all together, the Nets will miss the playoffs and should finish the year with around 30-35 wins and miss the playoffs by a handful of games.
My gut tells me that Russell takes that next step this year. A full year with Jarrett Allen running pick and rolls should do wonders for Russell’s game. Look for him to cement himself as an All-Star and finally live up to his potential.