Comparing the disappointments that are the Knicks and Nets

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets takes the ball up court.
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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Who is New York’s NBA team? Officially, of course, it’s the Knicks. New Yorkers probably wish it was the Nets. After all, the latter’s future is brighter with Kyrie Irving soon to be joined by Kevin Durant for the 2020-21 campaign and beyond. It is quite obvious right now, however, that neither squad is going anywhere in 2019-20.

Can make excuses

Both teams have legitimate excuses for their current shortcomings. It is said that sports franchises start at the top, and that is not good news for the Knicks. They are run by perhaps the most incompetent owner in sports (James Dolan), who really has not done anything right with the team since becoming primary owner in the late 1990s. Zion Williamson would have at least put a much-needed positive spin on the New York sports scene, but the Knicks did not quite win the 2019 draft lottery and instead settled for Duke teammate R.J. Barrett at No. 3 overall.

Given that Williamson has been hurt, the Knicks would probably be even worse than 11-29 if they had snagged the top spot. Barrett is a big reason why New York is avoiding the absolute cellar of the NBA (Atlanta and Golden State). He is averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game.

As for the Nets, they were never planning on being at their best in year one of the Irving-Durant era. That’s because at the moment it is simply the Irving era; Durant is out for the season due to a torn Achilles’. Irving has missed 26 games, finally returning from a shoulder injury this past Sunday after being sidelined for almost exactly two months. And they certainly aren’t at their best. Brooklyn is 18-20 heading into Tuesday’s home test against the on-fire Jazz (our free NBA expert picks have you covered for that game and all others).

Looking ahead

Is there any good news for the Knicks? Maybe that they aren’t the very worst team in the association, which was—and still is—a realistic possibility. They are also in line to be in a tie for the best odds to win the 2020 lottery. LaMelo Ball in New York, anyone? Surely their next full-time head coach will be an upgrade from David Fizdale. Beyond that, though, there are not a whole lot of promising signs. Barrett is a nice piece, Julius Randle is still just 25 years old, and Marcus Morris has overachieved in New York, but this roster is littered with a ton of swings and misses.

Much unlike the team in closest proximity to them, the Nets look great on paper. Or, more accurately, they will look great on paper in 2020-21. In addition to Irving and Durant, Brooklyn also boasts Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen.

It sure would be nice if the Nets could miss the playoffs. If they did, they would be in the lottery and would be able to keep their first-round pick. If Brooklyn makes the playoffs and exits the lottery, its pick goes to Atlanta stemming from a trade for Prince.

First-rounder or no next season, the Nets will be loaded. Patience, people, patience.

In New York, patience has run out.

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