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The Brooklyn Nets see a season of growing pains

The 2023-2024 NBA season is right around the corner as the days inch closer to the end of October. For many teams, this is their chance to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start in hopes of obtaining the Larry O’Brien trophy. In terms of championship aspirations, the same cannot be said about the Brooklyn Nets. However, despite the team lacking a championship-caliber team, fans can expect to see a potential Nets core team to build experience and find what works for them. 

What's Next? 

The 2022-2023 season was a mess beyond any expectations. From coach firings, to superstars leaving Brooklyn, the organization can finally take a breath of fresh air as they get a full restart heading into the season. There is no championship trophy to look forward to this season, but it will be a season of young players looking to find their place and adjust to the wild world of the NBA.

Who to look out for on the Nets: 

Mikal Bridges seems to fit right in with the Brooklyn Nets and could potentially develop into an All-Star level player this coming season. Bridges averaged about 26 points, with the average likely staying or increasing heading into this season. Bridges, along with fellow teammate Cam Johnson were sent to the Nets in a package deal that landed the Suns with Kevin Durant.

The Nets looked to offload their star players last season as not only Kevin Durant was traded away, but Kyrie Irving as well in a deal that landed the Nets with Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith. Dinwiddie had a decent season as well with 16.5 points per game and is likely going to stay that way heading into the season which is what the Nets need. 

The biggest question mark that both the Nets organization and the NBA have are in regards to Ben Simmons. Simmons had not played a game since prior to the 2023 All-Star break which left many questioning what is next for Simmons. He suffered a back injury that left him out for the remainder of last season. Simmons played his first game since then and played decently.

He had 10 points and three rebounds, and while it may not show on the stat sheet, Simmons looked confident and athletic in his first game back. If Simmons can get back to form and potentially play at a high level, both he and Bridges could be a good 1-2 offensive punch throughout the regular season. 

Cam Thomas showed on Monday that he still is an offensive juggernaut. Despite the close game loss to the Lakers (129-126,) Thomas led the game in points with 26. Thomas has an amazing offensive game, but is lackluster as the primary ball handler. This is something Thomas needs to work on if he wants to improve his game entirely, to further progress as a player and be a potential threat on the court. 

Noah Clowney was impressive when it came to the rebounds as he garnered eight rebounds in his first NBA game. The 21st pick has a long way to go, but could show some upside. He is a 6’10 forward with a large wingspan, and Monday’s game showed how crucial he could be in grabbing rebounds for the team.

The same could be said about Dariq Whitehead, who was drafted 22nd in the draft. While he did not have the season he wanted to in college, he will likely adjust fine in the NBA and will tool his game at its speed and potentially be a great solid player for the Nets in the future. 

Second round pick Jalen Wilson looks to be a potential steal of the draft as he averaged 20 points and eight rebounds per game during his last season with Kansas. Wilson could be a future star depending on his adjustment to the NBA and how he develops as a player. 

Nicolas Claxton looks to play at an elite defensive level again this season as many say he was snubbed from an All-Defensive Team selection. Claxton can be a menace in the paint to get stops and grab plenty of rebounds for the team. 

Season Outlook:

The Nets are far and away from being aggressive playoff contenders, and are likely not going to have a 47+ win season. However, the Nets have shown some upside in their first game in the preseason, and could steal some wins throughout the regular season. Gaining a spot in the play-in seems to be wishful thinking, but if the Nets can get away with some unlikely wins, the possibility is there.

According to GiveMeSport.com, the Nets have the 14th easiest schedule in the NBA, but have the hardest first 10 games of the season. The Nets play the Boston Celtics twice, with teams like the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers to start off the season.

With a schedule like that, it can be a hard ladder to climb for the Nets. However, with the drama of last season out of the way, the Nets can focus on their organization and team, and put the focus back to playing basketball and developing the team.