The Dailies

Word of the Day

Prodigious (adj., pro-DIHJ-us)

Impressive, excellent, or huge. It's most effective when coming out of the mouth of a RP-speaking English professor or from the mouth of a mop-haired surfer dude who's been in the sun too long (neither of whom are prodigious).

Gif of the Day

TagsAnimalsBirdsWell, hello thereToucanWho can?You can?I can?Sue cans?

Link of the Day

The Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets, man.

Few things have given us as much joy over the last two years as the Brooklyn Nets, and that has no business happening. Two years ago, the Nets were a disaster. Not their normal oddball dysfunction, but a flat out disaster. A from-the-earth-to-the-moon amount of overaggressiveness, hubris, and sloppiness placed them in the worst of all possible sports situations: bad, expensive, ugly to watch, and with no way to get better. One Nets site noted that “all twelve players were united only in their hatred of the coach.” They were an awful team to watch and a painful one to root for.

After the front office was cleared out, new general manager Sean Marks arrived and changed literally everything.* The coach was fired. A new one was hired. Players were bought out. New players were brought in, basically on tryouts. The front office was revamped. The team structure was redone. Players were traded, sometimes for surprising risks. Marks didn’t burn everything down and start over—the previous administration had already taken care of the first part—but he established that the Nets were a professional organization that cares about what they do and will work their tails off to get better.

Pure hustle. #WeGoHard

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That effort is noticeable on the court. The Nets play HARD every single game. Ask anyone around the league and they’ll tell you that the team does not quit for once. (If you quit, head coach and noted grinder Kenny Atkinson won’t play you.) They don’t have the upper-echelon talent…yet. What they do have is a roster full of guys who want to win and show what they can do. The Nets are always in games because they play hard—10 of their last 12 games have been decided by 6 points or less—and their depth is starting to swing games in their direction.

Spencer Dinwiddie is the clearest example of this. A castoff point guard who found his way to Brooklyn, Dinwiddie has become a clear leader with smart two-way play and never ever turning the ball over. And game-winners like this:

Or this, from earlier in the season:

But it’s not just Dinwiddie. Literally half the roster (if not more) is better now than they were at the start of the season. The ones who have been around for two years have come along way. Joe Harris has gone from being a minimum value signing to a brick refrigerator who hits 3-pointers and defends like a menace. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the one player still around from the pre-Marks era, has improved his shooting, handling, defense, and rebounding, and turned into the heart of the team.

And that’s the fun of watching the Nets. Turn on any game and you’ll see a team playing hard and growing before your eyes. It’s not flashy growth from adding top-end talent. It’s slow, incremental growth that comes from building a culture of effort, development, and encouragement, then bringing in players who will respond to it.

The Nets are far from perfect. They are still 12 games under .500 on the season. They need top-end talent to really compete and pull out some of the close games; their depth won’t help them as much in the playoffs. They may never get to a place of truly competing. But goodness, are they fun to be a fan of. And they just might get there.

Note: two things we’d be remiss to omit. First, the Nets broadcast teams are both excellent. On TV, Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok mix informativeness and entertainment with natural chemistry, and on radio, Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw are magnificent in their quick, clear, and easy deliveries. Second, the “Brooooooklyn” chant at the Nets’ arena is something to behold, a mellow booming that echoes deep into the corners.

TagsSportsBasketballThe Brooklyn NetsA man digging his way freeJoy in the little momentsTrust the progressSeriously, can we make Spencer Dinwiddie an all-star?