The Brooklyn Nets have turned their season around and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is one of many players taking notice.
A team reborn
Since the firing of head coach Steve Nash, the red-hot Nets have the best record in the NBA, and their resurgence has seen them skyrocket up the standings, currently sitting second in the Eastern Conference.
Less than two months ago, the franchise appeared to be on the brink of a premature rebuild after superstar forward Kevin Durant publicly called out his teammates after formally requesting a trade this offseason.
In addition to Durant’s comments, there were concerns about Ben Simmons’ dedication to the team, with star point guard Kyrie Irving serving a suspension following a controversial anti-Semitic post on social media.
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VanVleet saw both sides of the coin
Despite their internal turmoil, the Nets beat VanVleet and the Raptors in their first meeting of the season. Still, the 28-year-old point guard got a chance to witness firsthand the dysfunction they were dealing with with Nash.
Fast forward to December 16, the Nets faced off against the Raptors for the fourth time and swept the season series with a buzz from Irving. But this time, VanVleet witnessed a reinvented Brooklyn team. He talked about it during his appearance on the JJ Redick Podcast. “The Old Man and the Three”.
“We played in Brooklyn when it seemed like they didn’t want to be there and hated each other when Steve was there. You could tell it was wrong and then we played them recently and it was like they’re on a beat, and on the clock, and they’re all engaged, and they’re flowing in the right way. I think those are the best teams that are fully committed to everything that’s going on.” Fred said.
VanVleet hits the mark with his assessment, as the Nets are clearly a completely different team from the team that started the season 2-5. Their cohesion, chemistry and overall defensive application have been notable differences in their collective turnaround.
The Nets are in the driver’s seat.
Now, due to parity in the East, they find themselves just 1½ games out of the top seed in the Conference, trailing only the Boston Celtics, who have shown inconsistent tendencies of late by dropping a few winnable games.
It’s safe to say that if the Nets’ upward trend continues, they could find themselves with a significant advantage come playoff time by securing home field advantage.
Either way, they have shown that they are true championship contenders and have the ability to take down any team in the league in a seven-game series.