November 22, 2019

Taurean Prince makes a declaration with 22 points, rookie Nicolas Claxton shows he has skills, and; Nets new locker room décor makes a statement all its own

It’s only preseason, but the Brooklyn Nets blew out the Brazilian basketball team, SESI/Franca, 137-89, last night at the Barclays Center.

As with any sport, on any given night, any team could defeat their opponent. Unfortunately, for Brazil’s SESI/Franca, the pride of the country couldn’t even make them more competitive last night. Granted, NBA players as a group, are the most elite basketball players in the world. However, the Nets players that were on the floor last night are not NBA elite players, some have the potential, but they are not there yet.

Beyond the information provided to this reporter about SESI/Franca’s starting five, i.e., names, numbers, and player positions, there really isn’t that much information to go on about this team. In doing background research on Google, Franca Basquetebol Clube  is the legal name for the team, but it is known as SESI/Franca for sponsorship reasons. It is a Brazilian men's professional basketball club that is based in Franca, São Paulo state. Founded on May 10, 1959, the club has won the South American Club Championship six times. The players range in age from 16 -37 years old. The oldest player is David Jackson, who is an American and a starting guard. Both Rafael Hettsheimeir and Lucas Cipolini are 33 years old.

With 26 points and five rebounds, Hettsheimeir put up the most points for SESI/Franca and led all scorers; Jackson added 19 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals, and; Jimmy De Oliveira who scored 15 points and three assists were the only players scoring in double digits for SESI/Franca. Their bench combined for 15 points.

Meanwhile, the Nets had eight players to score in double digits. Taurean Prince led the Brooklyn Nets with 22 points and four rebounds; David Nwaba and Dzanan Musa each scored 18 points, Nwaba added five rebounds and four assists, while Musa seven rebounds and three assists; Caris LeVert, and Nicolas Claxton, who came off the bench, both contributed 13 points, while LeVert added nine assists to his totals; starting center Jarrett Allen and second unit G/F Garrett Temple each scored 12 points, Allen achieved five rebounds and three assists, while Temple managed to add three assists and three rebounds to his total, and; lastly, DeAndre Jordan came off the bench to chip in 11 points and eight rebounds.

Spencer Dinwiddie, known for his scoring and assists, led all players last night in rebounds with 12.

There was plenty of ball movement and Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased that his players dialed in on that note.

“I liked our quick decisions,” said Coach Atkinson. “It’s part of our principals. Shoot it, move it, drive it, and the guys did a really good job across the board. But we have to follow it up again. Forty assists is a big number. I’m very pleased with that.”

Claxton, a rookie who the Brooklyn Nets selected with the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, talked about playing his first NBA minutes.

“At the end of the day, whatever level it is, it’s basketball,” Claxton said. “I just wanted to come out there and affect the game in any way that I could, and I think I did a pretty good job of that. Just using the minutes that I had and making something happen. My teammates helped me out a lot too – just finding me in my spots and everything.”

Brooklyn Nets fans are going to be counting on all Nets players to be found in their rights spots as the season flows on. As we all know, there will be down days, but at least, when those down days are at home, the Nets players will have a locker room with beautiful décor to lament in.

 
 

A new Big 3 arrives in Brooklyn to add firepower to the Brooklyn Nets which already feature standouts Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris

When the news broke during the first moments of the 2019 NBA Free Agency that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets, it was clear that this was the start of a new era in Brooklyn. Today, that notion was underscored and co-signed by the number of media that showed up to see and hear from these two NBA superstars at the Brooklyn Nets Media Day held at the Nets practice facility.

The event kicked off with Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson answering a myriad of questions from the media including: how the Irving – Durant deal came together, will Kevin Durant travel with the team to China (preseason), players Atkinson expects to see take the next step upwards, what it’s like working with elite basketball players, and more.

In his own words: Kenny Atkinson

Kyrie Irving Hits The Stage

Then the moment that everyone was waiting for, Kyrie Irving takes the stage. Before anyone could ask questions, Irving leaned in and laid it all out. Irving started off as though he was in a confessional, all that was missing was, forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be here,” Irving said. “It’s been a journey that I’ve taken numerous steps in different directions, and I’ve failed and succeeded…”

Uhhh, so where is this going?!

Irving went on to say that he was the mastermind behind bringing Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to the Brooklyn Nets.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to the announcement, the drumbeat that Irving and Durant would be signing with the New York Knicks grew louder with each passing day. So, how did Irving and company land in Brooklyn?

From Irving’s detailing of the sequence of events, it seemed like the Brooklyn Nets were in the lead for a good while. He went into detail about his decision-making and listed the factors that swayed his decision. Irving watched a good deal of Brooklyn Nets tape, he noticed that the players played hard, the Brooklyn Nets were a well-managed and coached team, New York City is close to home, and he grew up watching and rooting for the Nets, which was his hometown team when they played in New Jersey.

So, how did those so-called basketball insiders get this so wrong? Easy, they were probably not talking with Kyrie Irving and probably didn’t know that he used to root for the Nets in the Julius Erving days. Additionally, when people hear New York, they forget that Brooklyn is part of New York City.

But, getting back to the deal, at 4:16 a.m. before NBA free agency started in earnest, Irving, Durant, and Jordan were on the phone, FaceTime, specifically, when Irving asked if they were ready to do this. Indeed, they were, and Irving reached out to Nets general manager Sean Marks to get the ball rolling. He also let Marks know that it wasn’t just him, saying, “I had some other pieces I wanted to bring with me as well…”

Marks, talking about the signing of Irving and Durant at his press conference on Tuesday played it cool as if it was just another day at the office. But, listening to Kyrie Irving, one could only imagine the “happy dance” that Marks and his team were probably doing when he learned that Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan were ready to sign with Brooklyn.

For the most part, Brooklyn Nets fans were exuberant at the news that Irving and Durant would be coming to Brooklyn and not the New York Knicks. However, some fans and reporters were wondering will Irving come and then leave Brooklyn high and dry like he did Boston. In answering the Boston issue without being asked, Irving stated, “nine months ago I was sitting in front of the Boston crowd saying that I wanted to re-sign. And after that, a lot of things happened in my personal life that really changed the landscape of how I felt about the game of basketball and actually playing it in a team environment, and that really affected me as a human being.”

“‘Hey…they loved me in Boston, I loved the Boston fans” Irving continued. “And then two weeks later things just got really, really rocky for me in terms of — when I left for, I believe you know, after the Phoenix game, I went to my grandfather’s memorial, and he passed on October 23rd and after he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind. So, a lot of basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me and there was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year, didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy or anything to deal with someone that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”

At that moment, there was a momentum shift in the room, yes, Kyrie Irving is a basketball god, a basketball hero, but he is also a human being that grieves like the rest of us.

We also learned that Irving and Durant have a real bond and Irving is very protective of Durant which he made very clear when he recounted Durant’s injury to his Achilles.

“We all know K was not ready to play in that environment…we put him on a national stage to end up selling a product (that) came before the person,” Irving said as though they were fighting words.

So, if Irving has anything to do with it, don’t expect to see Kevin Durant on the court before he’s physically ready.

Kevin Durant Speaks, sort of

Speaking of Durant, when it was his turn to speak, it was more question and answer and a noticeable shift in the relationship with the media. While Kyrie was open and laying it all bare, Durant, was closely guarded and with good reason. Since his move to the Golden State Warriors from the Oklahoma City Thunder, some media people seem to be out to get him.

For Durant, the opportunity to play for the Brooklyn Nets with his friends at this moment in time was not to be taken lightly, “it’s very rare we could meet up at this point… to control our destinies.”

Durant also did his homework researching the Nets. He already knew Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert from working out with him last summer. But he researched Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I was doing a lot of YouTube research on Kenny Atkinson and watching interviews to see how he talked after games and stuff,” Durant admitted. “I really liked his approach to his craft as a coach and that’s what drew me in pretty quickly.”

DeAndre Jordan

In every group, there seems to be someone who brings the comic relief and DeAndre Jordan was just what the doctor ordered. Jordan made it clear that as a veteran player at the center position, he will mentor Jarrett Allen, who is going into his third year, but the position will be competitive.

Jarrett, you have been put on notice.

What’s Next?

The Brooklyn Nets will play two games at home at the Barclays Center during the NBA preseason, on Friday, October 4, 2019, against the SESI/Franca Basketball Club (Brazil) and on Friday, October 18, 2019, against the Toronto Raptors. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

The first regular-season home game is on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:30 p.m., against the Minnesota Timberwolves, followed by the New York Knicks on Friday, October 25, 2019, also at 7:30 p.m.

 
 
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