Going into the season, the Brooklyn Nets were projected to be feisty but not very good. The playoffs, even in the shallow Eastern Conference, were still a year or two away.
Instead, the Nets are a .500 team (39-39), and while the playoffs are not assured — they are the seven seed, just one game ahead of nine-seed Orlando with four to play — fivethirtyeight.com gives them a 77 percent chance of making the postseason.
It’s a credit to the culture and style of team GM Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson have built. Which is why it’s smart that the Nets are extending the contract of Atkinson as well as his staff, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Atkinson and his staff are expected to have signed agreements with the Nets in the near future, league sources said.
Atkinson has received praise from his players, admiration from his peers, and he will get some Coach of the Year votes (in a crowded field).
He has built a culture of a team that plays hard and smart. D'Angelo Russell has grown and this season developed into an All-Star player who will get paid big next summer. Players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert and others have made leaps forward under Atkinson’s development.
Atkinson has helped build a culture that will have them as players to land a big name in free agency this summer. Whether they do or not, the work by Atkinson to put them in that position should be rewarded. If you’ve got a coach that good, lock him up.