Thursday afternoon at HSS Training Center was a time for the Brooklyn Nets to clean out lockers, recap with coaching staff and speak to the media one last time.
After a season filled with highs and lows, player after player cited their attitude and unity as defining qualities that remained constant no matter the circumstances.
“If you look at the months of March and April versus January and February, our guys were coming in and having the same mentality, same identity,” Brook Lopez said prior to parting for the offseason. “To have that same effort and workmanship is huge when dealing with success.”
That work and dedication showed through the team’s near-.500 record through the months of March and April, beating playoff-bound teams during a critical stretch of the season.
“I think it really galvanized the group,” guard Spencer Dinwiddie said of the team’s late run. “I think the character and the spirit of the team really showed through during that time and it showed the type of positive and determined group that we have.”
For a team with several rookies, this past season was one for younger players to establish their skill at the highest level. Caris LeVert had a strong rookie campaign after making his way back from a left foot injury. For him, his freshman campaign was a major stepping-stone.
“I am extremely blessed to be in this position to finish a full season, a lot of people can’t say that,” LeVert said. “I think I grew over the season, I learned a lot, and that’s definitely going to pay dividends when it’s the offseason.”
Another rookie was Kenny Atkinson. With his first year as head coach complete, players had plenty of positive feedback.
“It’s just been such a pleasure to work with Kenny and to learn from him,” Lopez said. “He’s a hands-on coach, first off. He makes everything so enjoyable. He’s out there on the court with us through drills. He just kept us going and willing us to keep going, and fighting until we broke through.”
As the offseason begins, Jeremy Lin says the team will keep up that motivation by spending time together, both on and off the court. Some players have vacations planned for the summer, but they’re also planning to spend time in Brooklyn. Lin is particularly excited to get back to work.
“We’re going to want to work with each other, we’re going to want to hang with each other,” Lin said. “I’ll be here [at the training center] with the guys a lot, we’ll be other places together a lot. I feel like there’s so much that I could do, and that’s what gets me extremely excited about this offseason.”