Fast forward to 2017, Garnett and Pierce are both now retired, yet Boston continue to relish from the trade for years earlier with top 3 picks in the NBA draft. This season the ping pong balls fell in their favor once again, awarding the Celtics the number one pick, which they traded to the 76ers for the third pick, in which they drafted Jayson Tatum. The Nets can only sit and watch and think what might have been.
The current front office are on a mission to make amends for the mistakes of those prior to them. With a new-look roster and a mix of experience and youth, the Nets seem to be making their way back to being relevant again, at long last.
Russell was drafted second in the 2015 draft by the Lakers and is yet to live up to the hype through his first two seasons in the league. He has been solid, averaging 15 points and 5 assists through 63 games last season. On the cusp of fulfilling his potential, but not quite there yet.
The Lakers were left with a decision heading in to the draft. Do they move forward with Russell? Or do they make way for Lonzo Ball to lead the Lakers. Lonzo had a terrific season at UCLA and Magic Johnson had made it very clear he was a fan of the young point guard.
The Lakers did indeed choose Lonzo, and sent Russell along with Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn, picking up a much needed Center in Brook Lopez in return.
Two years in the league, and already given up on by the team that drafted him. Although things look bad on paper, Russell has been given a unique opportunity to make the Brooklyn Nets his team. Entering his third season in the league, Russell can lead the offence and be the first choice ball handler, making him the leading player in Brooklyn.
The trade also involved acquiring Timofey Mozgov. Despite his heavy contract, Mozgov provides experience at the Center position. He is still a decent offensive player, and some stability could be exactly what Brooklyn need.
Moving on to free agency, and the Nets traded for DeMarre Carroll from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Justin Hamilton. Carroll has had lots of success in the Eastern Conference and has been deep in the playoffs with both the Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks. His experience at the Small Forward position will offer stable support to Russell.
A fortnight later at the end of July, Brooklyn made a trade to acquire Allan Crabbe from the Portland Trail Blazers, sending Andrew Nicholson the other way. Crabbe is a very good three point shooter and will compliment Russell very well. There is potential there for an exciting backcourt duo. Aged just 25, Crabbe will develop alongside D’Angelo, and can create their own brand of basketball.
The new-look Brooklyn Nets have some useful veterans in the shape of DeMarre Carroll and Timofey Mozgov to teach and help the young group of players, such as D’Angelo Russell and Allan Crabbe, who are set to develop together and move this team forward. With Jeremy Lin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the rest of last seasons team all returning for another year, Brooklyn have finally brought a level of interest back to the Barclays Center. Although they do not have their first round pick in 2018, they have acquired some exciting talent that could be enough to lure more free agents Brookside next summer.
D’Angelo Russell is my early prediction for most improved player, and I’m looking forward to seeing how good he can be now he has his own team to lead. A fresh start could be exactly what he needs.
Hang in there Brooklyn fans, the pain and suffering is almost over.