A new season of NBA basketball is about to begin, and the Nets are eager to start the 2023-24 campaign! It is the 12th year for the franchise in Brooklyn, where head coach Jacque Vaughn will guide a team filled with young talent. His club is going to participate in the association’s first-ever In-Season Tournament, and the Nets are also aiming to make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year in an Eastern Conference brimming with tough competition top to bottom.
A Superstar on the Rise
After taking a big leap last season following his February move from Phoenix to Brooklyn, Mikal Bridges looks to continue a progression that may have him ticketed for superstardom. Bridges averaged 26.1 PPG in regular season action with Brooklyn, the seventh-highest total in NBA history for a player who changed teams in the midst of a season and appeared in at least 25 games with their new squad. The 27-year-old is also the NBA’s current “Iron Man,” holding the league’s longest active streak of consecutive games played, plus he has a shot to become an All-Star for the first time, so you will want to keep your eyes on him every time he has the ball!
The X Factor
Ben Simmons has generated a lot of buzz throughout the preseason with his aggressive play, putting together a bunch of highlights and reminding fans how lofty his ceiling is. A three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA Defensive First Team selection, the 6-foot-10 Simmons is only 27 years old just like Bridges and he’s got the skill set to make a difference for the Nets anywhere on the floor whether he is playing up front or in the backcourt.
The only player who has been with the Nets in each of the past four seasons, 6-foot-11 center Nic Claxton won’t even turn 25 until April. Claxton’s per-game averages in points and rebounds have climbed every year, and his success in the paint last season helped him lead the NBA in field goal percentage. He was also an eraser on the defensive end, ranking top three in the NBA in blocks, but he was left off its All-Defensive team – a decision Claxton has said he is using as motivation for this season, which could be very bad news for the Nets’ opponents.
Dis-“Spencing” The Assists
As he begins the first full season of his second stint in Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie aims to keep giving the Nets the same blend of scoring and passing that he provided after he was reacquired from Dallas in the middle of last season. Popular with fans who saw him come of age as a professional during a lengthy run with the squad when he was younger, the 30-year-old point guard knows how to set his teammates up for success, and Dinwiddie also has a knack for hitting big shots in crunch-time moments.
Brooklyn has built a roster that has the kind of depth necessary for a team to weather the grind of a long season. Another 27-year-old player, Cameron Johnson has dealt with a hamstring injury but is locked in as a key piece after re-signing with the Nets over the summer on a four-year contract. 22-year-old Cam Thomas remains a “walking bucket” capable of putting up significant point totals whenever he plays. Day’Ron Sharpe turns 22 in early November and will provide crucial size in the paint behind Claxton. Veterans Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith return as important “three-and-D” players. Notable offseason additions through free agency include backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV, who had some nice games in the postseason with the Lakers last year. Noah Clowney, Dariq Whitehead and Jalen Wilson are all starting their pro careers after being drafted by the Nets in June.
The Journey Begins
Brooklyn will open its new season next Wednesday at Barclays Center against Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers, with coverage beginning on YES and the YES App at 6:30 p.m. After that the Nets are going to head out on a four-game road trip that starts two nights later against the Mavericks in Dallas, where they will face Kyrie Irving for the first time since trading him. Trips to Charlotte, Miami and Chicago will follow – their clash with the Bulls is going to be their first game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament, which has Brooklyn in Group C of the Eastern Conference along with Chicago, Boston, Toronto and Orlando.