Is Steve Nash Still The Right Man For Brooklyn?

This image is a derivative of 2013 Brooklyn Nets 1 by Michael Tipton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In Steve Nash’s first season as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets the Canadien led his team to a 48-24 record and the #2 seed in the Eastern conference. 

While his 66.67% regular season win-rate qualified as the best in franchise history, Nash wasn’t able to magic a championship despite having the services of one of the strongest rosters in the NBA. 

The Nets bowed out in the second round of the playoffs falling to a Milwaukee Bucks team who'd go on the win the championship. The same Bucks team who brutalised the Nets on opening night of the 2021/22 season with a massive 127-104 win. 

Despite coming up short last season, and in a league where defensive efficiency reigned supreme, Nash and the Nets were outstanding on offence, scoring an NBA-best 118.3 points per 100 possessions, with only the LA Clippers nailing the 3-ball at a better rate. 

In his first season in charge and with a roster that only came together late in the picture Nash was able to implement a vibrant attack that suited his incredible Kevin Durant-James Harden-Kyrie Irving troika and which instilled fear into opponents on a nightly basis. 

In this realm the players eagerly bought what Nash was selling and for the most part the Nets thrived. 

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Defensively however, Brooklyn was a sieve, ranking 23rd in the league and conceding 113.8 points per 100 possessions which ranked 15th of 16 among playoff teams.

If nothing else, it's something Nash is highly cognisant of and eager to improve. 

“I’ll definitely spend a lot of time with the film department, with the analytics department and with the front office this year, even the performance team, players, just trying to continually ask the right questions and find answers and solutions for ways that we can get better,” Nash said ahead the 2021-22 season and in recognising his team needs to be a lot more consistent without the ball.

To boost his confidence he’ll this season have LaMarcus Aldridge at his disposal which should be a massive gain in the front-court. Aldridge retired abruptly last year after just five games after experiencing an irregular heartbeat. 

He’ll be a significant addition to a team which struggled on the boards all season and which ranked just 13th in the league with 44.4 rebounds per game and who were out-rebounded by 31 over their 7-game series against the Bucks in the playoffs. 

In addition to Aldridge, the Nets will also get to enjoy a full campaign out of Blake Griffin who only joined the squad in early March. 

Another massive concern for Nash, along with desperately-needed defensive improvements, will be navigating a world where he mightn't have the services of his star point guard, Kyrie Irving. The former NBA champion Cavalier will likely miss all 41 home games this season owing to a mandate by the state of New York which requires people be vaccinated against Covid-19 should they wish to enter arenas. This means Nash will be without one of the NBA's pre-eminent point guards for a majority of the season. While Aussie Patty Mills hit all 7 of his threes on opening night against the Bucks he only supplied 2 assists meaning Nash will continue to search for answers where a primary playmaker is concerned.

Whether Irving is part of the Nets franchise this year or not, the Nets will know that what happens in the regular season will mean nothing unless it’s able to progress through the gauntlet that is the NBA playoffs. 

Their extreme talent and depth will enable them to cruise through the regular season however to advance they'll need Nash to have implemented a more refined defensive structure to limit what other brilliant squads can throw at them. 

Right now, clearly Nash is the man for the Nets job, however unless there’s some defensive improvement, and owing to the generational talent at this disposal, his ongoing tenure will be the subject of constant speculation.

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Nikhil Kalro

With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes cricket, soccer, tennis and esports betting.

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