D’Angelo Russell issued support for Kenny Atkinson following the news that his coach was signing an extension with the Brooklyn Nets.
Step one in the Brooklyn Nets’ process has begun. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Nets have locked down their guy. Soon, head coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff are expected to sign long-term extensions with Brooklyn.
Based on how the team has performed with Atkinson at the helm, the extension is certainly well deserved. Coach Atkinson inherited the Nets in 2016. With no assets, picks, or players of value, the Brooklyn Nets went 20-62 in his first season.
However, Atkinson has seen his team’s record improve each season. In year two, the Brooklyn Nets won 28 games. This season, the Nets are miraculously 39-39. They’re also on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot.
Atkinson has many strengths, but his biggest might be player development. He’s turned Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie into rotation pieces after both spent seasons toiling in developmental leagues. He’s given Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs the confidence to compete at a high level regardless of their draft positioning.
However, Atkinson’s biggest triumph pertains to his star. D’Angelo Russell — a player who was cast away by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015 salary dump — has grown from a draft-bust into a 2018 All-Star.
Russell has clearly taken notice of the impact of Atkinson and the rest of the coaching staff. Shortly after news broke of Coach Kenny’s extension, D-Lo tweeted out some serious support:
Kenny A and his coaching staff are true examples of hard work dedication. Well deserved for this group. I appreciate you guys for showing us how it’s done everyday.
— D’Angelo Russell (@Dloading) April 2, 2019
It’s interesting to see just how much Russell has bought into Atkinson’s coaching ways. Early into the season, Kenny sat D-Lo during multiple fourth quarters to have him learn from the sidelines. Many thought that this practice would lead to Russell’s exit.
While Russell’s tenure in Brooklyn is still TBD, it’s certainly encouraging to see his strong support for Brooklyn’s coach of the future. Perhaps it’s a sign that Russell is 100 percent behind the Nets’ movement.
For the franchise’s sake, let’s hope so.