This morning, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets have decided to part ways. Jacque Vaughn will serve as head coach for the rest of the season.
Many NBA fans think that this was the wrong move for the Nets, but true Nets fans (like myself) can explain why this move was more than necessary.
Before we rip on Kenny Atkinson, let’s recognize that he was fantastic when it came to the development of young players. Here is a list of non-lottery Nets draft picks that have been thriving:
- Jarrett Allen: Pick 22, 2017
- Caris LeVert: Pick 20 2016 (via IND)
- Spencer Dinwiddie: Pick 38, 2014 (4.55 PPG before going to BKN)
- Garrett Temple: Undrafted, 2009 (career high in all major stats with BKN)
- Joe Harris: Pick 33, 2014 (1.65 ppg before going to BKN)
All of these players are having the best seasons of their careers this season.
Unfortunately for Atkinson, the bad outweighed the good:
First and foremost, he showed the incapability to close out a game. This resulted from horribly drawn up plays that left the players confused, a lack of prioritization for evident free throw struggles, and encouragement of alley-oops that were completely ineffective.
In terms of lineup management, it was even worse.
He continuously put trust into Taurean Prince, even after consecutive nights of shooting 20%, and inserted useless small-ball lineups in crunch time. The lineups with Kyrie out of the game have been scrambled as well.
The difference between good teams, and great teams in the NBA comes down to the ability to close out close affairs through coaching adjustments, and Atkinson showed he was completely unable to do so.
Reports also surfaced that Atkinson failed to control the locker room, causing frustration.
When dealing with two huge egos next year in Durant and Irving, having a levelheaded coach with experience handling superstars will be a huge positive for a franchise looking to compete.
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