When Sean Marks arrived in Brooklyn in February 2016, he stepped into the midst of an abysmal 21-61 marketing campaign. His first full season as Nets common supervisor, they had been the worst staff within the NBA, ending 20-62.
Now, the Nets open the 2021 playoffs as the favorites to win it all.
How did that turnaround occur?
It was about studying the terrain, sensing the path the league was heading — that it was turning into all about participant empowerment. And then determining how to construct a basis and tradition that would lure empowered stars.
One can virtually think about a disembodied voice echoing from the rafters in Barclays Center, saying, “If you build it, they will come.”
“Sean Marks put the foundations in place with guys like Caris [LeVert], Jarrett [Allen], Joe [Harris] and Spencer [Dinwiddie],” Nets proprietor Joe Tsai advised The Post.
“This core group enabled us to attract top free agents in the summer of 2019 with Kyrie [Irving] and [Kevin Durant], while keeping the necessary assets for the James Harden trade. In hindsight this ‘process’ was brilliant, but I certainly didn’t see it coming at the time.”
Few might’ve seen how sensible it was on Feb. 18, 2016, when Marks — a rookie GM — was employed by Mikhail Prokhorov and tasked with righting a foundering franchise.
The Nets had been talent-starved, had been procuring their star, Brook Lopez, and didn’t have management of their first-round choose till 2019 to get a brand new one.
That was all thanks to former GM Billy King’s ill-fated 2013 cope with Boston that set the Nets again years. But in some ironic approach, there have been silver linings to come out if it.
“The main asset that Brooklyn got as an indirect result of it [and other calamities] was Sean Marks,” tweeted Irina Pavlova, who represented Prokhorov in Brooklyn and spearheaded the GM search that discovered Marks. “Without him, there’s no Nets as a title contender in 2021.”
The climb that appears miraculous on the skin was meticulous on the within.
The Nets didn’t have the form of plethora of top-five picks cellar dwellers sometimes profit from, so Marks knew he had to be inventive.
“The first thing that allowed this is their direction of how they could get good was set for them,” TNT analyst Greg Anthony stated, “meaning they knew they couldn’t build through the draft, because of the deals that were made prior.”
So the Nets took the painful steps of taking over wage dumps to get property. They plucked Harris and Dinwiddie off the proverbial scrap heap and developed each into standouts, the final males standing from the rebuilding.
They hit on picks within the 20s like LeVert and Allen. That pair helped the Nets break their playoff drought in 2019, which paved the way in which to efficiently luring Durant and Irving. Then, LeVert and Allen grew to become the muse of the megadeal for Harden.
“Obviously the road in terms of getting there is not an easy thing to get to this point. It’s not an easy thing to get the organization to a level where it’s attractive to free agents that want to come,” Harris stated. “At the top of the day, guys need to come the place they see one of the best match by way of tradition, high quality of gamers.
“That’s a testomony to Sean and what he was ready to instill early on with [coach] Kenny [Atkinson] and the remainder of the workers by way of solidifying a basis … getting folks to mesh collectively, creating this setting of individuals wanting to are available and work the place it’s optimistic, a number of enthusiasm, a number of nice power, over time the place this was only a enjoyable place to play.
“It made it an attractive destination for guys like Kevin and Ky and so on to really want to play here. And now that we’re a championship caliber, a lot of people want to come and play and be a part of a team like that.”
That participant empowerment was one thing Marks appropriately judged.
It wasn’t a part of his period when he performed from 1998-2011, and even when he was a Spurs assistant coach. But he learn the prevailing winds and leaned into them.
“The other thing that allowed this is player empowerment. … In our era, we didn’t even appreciate our true value as players. We never looked outside of our own world,” stated Anthony, who was the primary vp of the NBPA throughout the 1999 lockout, when even stars like Karl Malone bought themselves brief. “They didn’t perceive what their true worth was. They simply wished to be certain that they didn’t lose that 12 months, not pondering, ‘Man, I’ll have the ability to recoup that primarily based on who I’m.’ They didn’t know their worth. Guys right now are utterly totally different.
“Guys again then didn’t speak about teaming up, going to a brand new metropolis, constructing their very own factor. They didn’t have a look at themselves as being companions with groups. Kyrie Irving caught a number of slack when he stated, ‘We don’t have a head coach.’ People killed him for that, however he wasn’t mendacity. And I’m not saying Steve Nash isn’t the coach, the point I’m making is that they do all that stuff by committee, a number of their selections, as a result of they belief their stars. They know the way good these guys are, and perceive their basketball IQ and their worth. So it’s extra of a partnership.
“You couldn’t have had something like what happened for Brooklyn happen 20 years ago, it’s just the evolution of where players are. … Ultimately it’s Kyrie and Kevin Durant deciding to come. What if those guys decided not to sign there? We wouldn’t be having this conversation, there would’ve been no trade for James Harden, none of that would’ve happened. So they were able to go buy a contender because those guys wanted to play together. They wanted to control their own destiny, their own fate, and pulled it off.”
The Nets realized it’s not nearly discovering expertise, however about making a scenario during which your gamers appeal to extra gamers.
Teams nonetheless want stars to win within the NBA. But if they need to get them — and preserve them — they will’t simply management them, however should collaborate with them.
“Players know what teams are on the rise up,” TNT analyst Reggie Miller stated. “Brooklyn was a team on the rise up, beautiful arena, Brooklyn’s a beautiful city; they understood that. That’s why Kyrie and KD, they want to control their own destiny and put more shine on Brooklyn. Then you go out and get James Harden, and now you’re one of the more marketable teams in the NBA.”