By Will Gaitings
Despite another tough season, Kenny Atkinson proved he’s the right man for the Brooklyn Nets.
When Kenny Atkinson took the helm as head coach in 2016, he was widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in all of basketball.
He helped lead the Atlanta Hawks to four playoff seasons under head coach Mike Budenholzer, a product of the Greg Popovich coaching tree.
It’d be easy to look at Brooklyn’s record the last two seasons (a combined 48-116) and blame Atkinson for the team’s shortcomings.
Yet, if you followed the Nets, you’d know the franchise would’ve probably been worse without him. Yes, worse.
With a limited amount of talent on the roster, the Nets have consistently hung tough with elite teams.
In fact, Brooklyn defeated nine playoff teams over the course of the regular season this year, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trailblazers, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Atkinson also brings stability to an organization that’s struggled to find the right coach over the last decade.
It finally feels like the Nets are showing improvement and have a plan intact.
For Nets fans: It hasn’t been easy with four consecutive losing seasons, but it’s pretty clear the team is headed in the right direction.
Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have some tough decisions to make.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 12, 2018
Since 2009, the Nets have hired six different head coaches. That equates to a coaching change almost every one and a half years.
Brooklyn simply can’t afford to continue its coaching carousel, especially with the amount of youth on the roster.
The franchise needs direction, especially during a rebuilding phase like the one it finds itself in now. That’s exactly what Atkinson provides.
The Nets have also experienced tremendous growth out their younger players under Atkinson’s guidance. Spencer Dinwiddie, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Allen Crabbe each had career years this season.
As the roster continues to improve, it’ll be interesting to see just how far Atkinson can take this team. For now, Nets fans have to feel pleased with what the second-year coach has been able to accomplish.