Since June 2016, when Joe Harris joined the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA landscape has changed dramatically.
Most notably, as noted in a Brooklyn Daily Eagle feature this week, Harris is the player with the longest tenure on the team.
Three years into his time with the Nets, they’ve gone from downright awful (a league-worst 20-62) in the 2016-17 campaign to expected title contenders in the future.
The signing of superstars Kevin Durant (who’s injured) and Kyrie Irving, both of whom have played for title-winning teams (the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, in case you’ve forgotten), has, dramatically raised the hopes of Nets supporters. And irritated New York Knicks fans at the same time.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson’s team is coming off a 42-40 season, which was his third at the helm, and a trip to the postseason.
Harris, a University of Virginia alum, recognizes that the team’s turnaround has been a carefully orchestrated series of events.
“I think when (general manager) Sean (Marks) and Kenny got in and then assembled the team you could see stuff transitioning and changing,” Harris was quoted as saying by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “Obviously it’s a slow process.”
In other words, players come and players leave.
The 2016-17 Nets roster included Yogi Ferrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Randy Foye and Brook Lopez, for instance, while Timofey Mozgov and Allen Crabbe appeared on the 2017-18 squad.
Dzanan Musa, Shabazz Napier and D’Angelo Russell (who scored a team-high 21.1 points per game) were included on the 2018-19 roster.
As of today, shooting guard Garrett Temple, a newcomer, is the team’s oldest player at age 33.
In addition to Harris, other notable returnees include Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, who also joined the Nets before the 2016-17 season.
Joe Harris, the No. 33 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, averaged 13.7 points per game and shot .474 from 3-point range last season. He also gained eternal fame for beating Steph Curry in the 3-Point Contest during the 2019 All-Star Weekend.
Raising the stakes
Despite Durant’s Achilles injury and the uncertainty of when he’ll make his return, he’s an elite talent. So is Irving.
Which is why Nets fans have greater expectations for the next few years.
“You didn’t anticipate it happening as quickly as it did or in the manner that it happened,” Harris said, according to the Brooklyn newspaper.
“But I think at some point everybody could kind of see the tide turning. Obviously, we had a great year this past year, but then to go out and make the splash in free agency. It sort of solidified the come up of this organization.”
Heading in right direction
From the aforementioned 20-win season to 28 in Year 2 under Atkinson to 42 victories this past season, the Nets are building something special, Harris insisted.
“When you do stuff the right way, and people see sort of the enthusiasm that the team plays with, the culture that’s been built, that’s there, everybody recognizes it,” he said.
He continued: “And everybody knows that the Nets are a first-class organization from the top down, from ownership to the front office, coaches. There’s a clear synergy there where it’s something you would want to be a part of and obviously there’s a lot of other things that factor into it. But I think establishing that foundation, that culture early on is just as important as anything else that’s happened along the way.”
Impressions of Irving
Harris also offered his insights on former Cavs teammate Irving in the Daily Eagle’s comprehensive feature. They played together in 2014-15.
“I would say you could ask a lot of people that played with him and they’d all say that he’s a great teammate and a good guy to be around,” Harris said, according to the Brooklyn newspaper.
He added: “None of us are perfect all the time. We’re all going to have ups and downs throughout the course of the season. For him, unfortunately, he’s just in one of these scenarios where there is so much more attention on him and people are paying much more attention to when he does have an off day. It’s a little bit different than people like me. I have off days all the time too, but nobody really cares when I have an off day. People care when Kyrie does.”