It’s hard to imagine a team having a more tumultuous half-year, from owner Joe Tsai confirming his takeover to the drama around the China trip to the injuries that have ravaged what should be a talented roster.
Kevin Durant hasn’t played this season, and isn’t expected to. And Kyrie Irving has missed 33 of the Nets’ 53 games while Caris LeVert has sat for 25. Losing defensive revelation David Nwaba to an Achilles hurt as well.
Despite season-long struggles against winning teams, victories in Indiana and against Toronto sent the Nets (25-28) into the All-Star break on a high note. They currently own the final playoff spot in the East.
Before witnessing how the second half will play out, beginning Thursday in Philadelphia, we first look back at their midseason grades.
Jarrett Allen: A
The Nets have always been besotted with Allen, but now he’s living up to that potential, his improved rebounding (9.7 boards) closer to the level of his roll game and rim protection. They even turned down an offer for him that would’ve netted them Clint Capela.
DeAndre Jordan: A-minus
Fans see his reduced mobility and a rich contract ($40 million guaranteed over four years), but the Nets have gotten their money’s worth. Jordan leads the team in PIE, is second in Win Shares and provides size and strength. Nobody knows what Year 4 of this deal will look like, but Year 1 has been a clear win.
Kyrie Irving: B+
If one doesn’t downgrade for health, this is an A. Irving is averaging a career-high 27.4 points and 6.4 assists. But he’s hurt again, having sat out the last five games with a sprained knee and when he’ll return is up in air.
Spencer Dinwiddie: B
Dinwiddie carried the Nets while Irving and LeVert were out. He’s averaging 21 points and a team-high 6.6 assists. Even with his new deal, at $10.6 million per, he’s a bargain and can opt-out after next season.
Joe Harris: B-minus
In a tumultuous season, Harris has been one of the rare constants. He’s second on the team in minutes and shooting .408 percent from behind the arc. As a pending unrestricted free agent, he’s due a big raise from his team-friendly $7.6 million deal.
Nic Claxton: C-plus
Claxton, 20, has the look of a second-round steal. His youth and wiry frame have largely limited him to G-League action. But in his 14 NBA games — including scoring 15 and 14 points in consecutive tilts last month — he teased what he can become with strength and experience.
Garrett Temple: C
He’s been a steadying presence in the locker room, has surprisingly logged the fifth-most minutes on the team and been vital in terms of both defensive communication and veteran leadership. At 33, he’s better when less is demanded of him.
Caris LeVert: C
Like Irving, he’s the victim of injuries. After missing 24 games due to thumb surgery, he came off the bench in his next 14 before finally getting back in the lineup for the past five. His 24-point, five-assist average in those shows what this season could’ve been.
Taurean Prince: C
On one hand, Prince has been in the starting lineup every single game this season. On the other, he’s shooting just .383 and must improve his decision-making for a player who got a two-year, $29 million extension.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: C
Not even with the Nets at the start of the season, TLC signed a two-way deal, then not one but two 10-day contracts before earning a two-year NBA deal by proving he could defend at this level.
Rodions Kurucs: C-minus
In and out of the rotation, he hasn’t looked like the same player who was a Rising Star last season as a rookie. That’s his own doing, after an offseason misdemeanor assault charge in which he was charged with choking his then-girlfriend . A sports psychologist has helped. In limited time he’s shooting .463 from deep.
Wilson Chandler C-minus
He’s been stout defensively but struggling offensively; and like Kurucs, the woes are partly his own fault. A 25-game PED suspension to start the season set him back, and he’s shooting just .333 this month.
Dzanan Musa: C-minus
After getting on the court for just 39 minutes as a rookie, Musa has taken a step forward. There is some creativity and confidence there; but the 20-year-old has far to go in terms of defense and efficiency.
Theo Pinson: D
Went from undrafted rookie last season to a two-way deal to an NBA contract. But injuries forced Pinson into having to play backup point guard, and he was ill-suited, shooting just .295 overall, .195 from 3.
Sean Marks: A-
This was an A-plus on June 30, when he inked Durant and Irving. Marks massaged the cap to squeeze in Jordan, Temple and an extra year for Claxton. But an extension for Prince and deals for Chandler and Pinson are question marks that drop the grade ever so slightly. Still a rousing success.
Kenny Atkinson: B
After years of coaching rookies, overachievers and reclamation projects, Atkinson finally has expectations. But the Nets have been so injury-riddled, it’s hard to gauge just what kind of job he’s doing. He’s kept them from quitting and his ATOs are solid; but he’s taken awhile to learn his new players and fully embrace the coach’s challenges.
NOTE: Two-way players (Chris Chiozza, Jeremiah Martin), and players no longer with Brooklyn (Nwaba, Iman Shumpert, Henry Ellenson, Justin Anderson) were not graded.