The Nets roster is ready to go from worst in the league to playoff contender this season, but GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson are only focused on progress and development.
The Nets' 20-62 record last season was the worst in the NBA. But spirits are high this season after the acquisitions of PG D'Angelo Russell, C Timofey Mozgov, SF DeMarre Carroll, and SG Allen Crabbe to go along with the Nets' first-round C Jarrett Allen.
Atkinson loves his new band of players to work with, but he isn't primarily focused on winning a ring just yet. He needs his players to grow first.
"We're so involved with the process and just trying to find our little wins every day and in every corner of this facility and [in] Barclays Center," Atkinson told The Post's Brian Lewis. "We're never like, 'Hey man, can you imagine when we're in the playoffs?' There's none of that talk. We're so engrossed with helping our players and staff improve, that's part of our task. Talking with ownership, that's our mindset."
Players like Jeremy Lin and Crabbe have told news outlets that the Nets will be a contender this year. Atkinson likes their competitive nature, but isn't sure that mindset is the best to have heading into camp.
"I read it in the papers, I've seen what [the players have said]," Atkinson said. "It goes two ways. You love that the players think that way. ... These guys are competitors. From our perspective, I'm not sure it's great that they think that way."
"Our process" is a little different. ... We're thinking about it on a day-to-day basis: how we're growing, are we making incremental progress, are we improving? ... I feel the momentum of this organization and where we're going. I feel really good about it. Obviously we want that to translate into results, there's no doubt about it. But for me to stand here and say we're going to win 35 games or 32 games, that's not how my thought process goes."
Marks agree with Atkinson in that the team needs to win one game at a time.
"It's important to have those small wins along the way," Marks said. "That can be how guys are progressing performance-wise, what they're doing in the weight room, how they bounce back after a tough loss, how they practice, do they recover, where their mindset's at. They're also 'family' wins. We talk about our culture and the feedback we get from the wife, the significant other."
The Nets began training camp in Annapolis, Md. at the Naval Academy on Tuesday.