Joe Harris, Kenny Atkinson, Kyrie Irving
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

With opening night for the Brooklyn Nets less than 12 days away, we detail the reasons the squad may struggle early with team chemistry early. 

Your Brooklyn Nets, the very same franchise who stole the NBA summer, are 3-0 in the preseason. Yet, interestingly, your Nets, could easily get off to a slow start this season.

Don’t be surprised one bit if it happens, regardless of the talent in the locker room and eventual success to come.

Kyrie Irving re-injured his fractured face and left the Nets second preseason game vs. the Los Angeles Lakers in Shanghai just 66 seconds into the game. The injury is officially listed as a facial contusion, but apparently, it’s a re-aggravation of the initial fracture he suffered right before Nets media day.

He donned a mask to protect the injury, but it appeared to offer little protection as he re-injured himself while overcrowding Rajon Rondo as he leaned in with his face and made inadvertent contact with Rondo’s shoulder.

The severity of the injury is not known, but it would probably be wise for the Nets to rest him for the remainder of the preseason to avoid a potentially catastrophic injury that might require surgery. Irving does have a history of facial injuries. For now, thankfully it’s not listed as serious.

Less than a minute later in the game, Caris LeVert drove past Anthony Davis and Davis swiped down at the ball, inadvertently poking LeVert in his right eye. LeVert did not return but he is listed as day-to-day.

The bright spots for the Nets were the continued stellar shooting from Taurean Prince, who poured in 18 points on 4-6 shooting from deep, and Dzanan Musa, who finished with 16 points on 4-6 shooting from deep as well.

Spencer Dinwiddie spearheaded the victory with 20 points and 7 assists on 6-14 shooting from the field while sinking three from beyond the arc.

Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan made their presence felt on defense with spirited efforts combining for 7 blocks and 2 steals between them. Each player had seven rebounds as well. Allen looked energized and aggressive on defense even blocking a LeBron James field goal attempt.

David Nwaba showed some good defensive intangibles forcing the game-winning turnover and scoring on the next play. Rodions Kurucs added 10 points and 8 rebounds and canned three from deep as well.

Outside of these positive takeaways, the Nets as a team did not look very impressive. Their offense was stagnant at times and they committed 25 turnovers in the game. The defense was spotty at best, but that was overshadowed by Jordan and Allen’s individual efforts. The lack of chemistry was apparent despite the win.

The Nets continued to struggle to defend the perimeter as they did in their previous game and did not defend the Lakers pick and roll well. They were not consistently boxing out, either. These are problems that need to be rectified if they want to get off to a strong start this season.

In that regard, it looks like Irving might miss some time which will hinder the team’s chemistry early this season. It’s difficult to implement offensive and defensive schemes when two key players are out of the lineup at this important juncture of the season.

Add in the potential that Joe Harris may have some fatigue after playing this summer in the FIBA games, combined with the inconveniences of traveling to China, and he could get off to a slow start as well.

The most glaring issue for the Nets thus far is that Allen, entering year three of his NBA career, in two preseason games has not shown any added dimensions to his offensive repertoire. While he looks slightly stronger and aggressive he hasn’t added any actual skills.

Prince also seems to not have made any substantial leaps in terms of his skills. He is still the same sharpshooter he was for the Hawks but his defense, rebounding and playmaking abilities remain to be seen.

With the regular season right around the corner, it’s doubtful either of these players will develop in the areas the Nets need them to in order to be a much-improved team. Add in the possibility of Irving and LeVert missing time due to injury there are some real chemistry issues to consider early on for the Nets.

Furthermore, Kenny Atkinson elected to allocate 10 minutes to Wilson Chandler in this preseason game despite him being suspended for the first 25 regular games of the season. This is a headscratcher, as Nicolas Claxton was impressive in the first preseason game, but didn’t get any minutes in the second game.

Kurucs has a court date on Oct. 21 to sort out his legal issues. This is why it was important for the team’s chemistry to get Claxton some valuable experience against an actual NBA team in case things go south for Kurucs. The rookie looked eager to get onto the court but his number was never called.

In many ways, this recent preseason game looked like Atkinson was letting his players showcase their skills when he should be focused on implementing actual sets, plays and schemes. This is especially the case since the Nets turned over the majority of their roster this offseason. The Nets seem to be behind in terms of preparation for the regular season considering all this.

The Nets mostly looked disjointed on both ends of the floor with no semblance of any real offensive system in place. They played a lot of isolation ball. The team looked confused on defense lacking even the basic principles of being fundamentally sound as a unit.

Even Atkinson looked asleep at the wheel at times in this game. He was sitting for long portions instead of coaching. At the end of the game, the Nets were up by three with less than twenty seconds to play in regulation and he did not elect to foul the Lakers and put them on the free-throw line. Instead, he allowed the Lakers a last-second three-point opportunity to tie the game that luckily missed.

There is still time to right the ship, but time is running out. Despite the injuries, this team needs to get on the same page and fast. While they won both preseason games so far they did so against a Brazilian team that was easy to overmatch and against a Lakers team who played their weak second unit for most of the second half.

When the regular season starts the games will be more intense and against much better opponents who have planned and scouted the Nets extensively. The first 25 games on the Nets schedule have some very good teams mixed in there.

It’s important to get off to a fast start. If the Nets don’t start to develop chemistry on both sides of the ball in the upcoming preseason games, they could indeed get off to a slow start in the regular season due to chemistry issues.

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