BOSTON (CBS) – As an organization, there isn’t much for the Brooklyn Nets to look forward to these days. As currently constructed, Brooklyn is a mismatched roster of veterans and young castoffs from other franchises. They have stumbled out to a 2-11 start following Boston’s 120-95 blowout win on Friday night, setting the stage for a long season in the Eastern Conference basement.
Faced with such a slow start and a gloomy season outlook, most teams would have the option of selling off parts and turning their focus to the team’s young core for the future. Brooklyn’s trade of three upcoming first round draft picks to Boston has made that option an unfulfilling proposition for the franchise.
Lionel Hollins has the tough assignment of coaching the Nets during this nightmare scenario and has kept his mind off the team’s future picks, or lack there of. Instead, he tries to focus on what the team can still do during the draft process.
“I rarely think about that,” Hollins said of the traded picks. “I do. I think more importantly it’s what we do daily, the foundation that we lay. There’s always second-round picks that are bought. There’s always second-round picks that are traded.”
While finding second-round picks that become successful is generally a needle in a haystack proposition for most NBA teams, Hollins pointed to one prominent example in the Celtics organization.
“I mean, I look at Isaiah Thomas,” Hollins continued. “He was the last player taken in the draft. He’s become a star. So how high you draft and how many first-round picks you have doesn’t necessarily mean success. It’s how you choose people that you put on your team, and where you find players, and how they develop, and whether or not they are players. That’s the key.”
In the meantime, Hollins is honing in on making the best of a bad situation. With seasoned veterans like Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young scattered throughout the roster, the pain of losing will wear on the trio. None of them qualify as valuable trade assets though, making Brooklyn better off sticking with the group as they attempt to bring in talent around them in free agency.
Hollins must attempt to keep it all together, a feat that will undoubtedly be a challenge during 82 games.
“As a coach my challenge is to lay a foundation of how we’re going to get the guys to play,” Hollins said, “And get the guys to do it every night. The way I look at it is, if we do that – I told the players, and I live by this – if we go out and play to the best of our ability every night and we lose, that’s all we can do. And then you go home and go to sleep that night. You can’t worry about not being good enough. You can only worry about how hard you play, how well you play together, and doing the things that you’re supposed to do.”
As Hollins tries to be a man of his word, the Celtics brass will likely be watching closely with glee as they await patiently to see how big of a payout that 2016 unprotected first round pick will prove to be.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.