King’s successor, Sean Marks, has done a nice job turning the franchise around, and their long-term prospects look good. But after disintegration of the Garnett-Pierce team, the Nets spent several seasons among the worst teams in the league, without any high lottery picks to show for it, while Boston built what looks to be a contender for a long time. As a result, the Nets have been the most irrelevant franchise in the league for the past half-decade, and it’s tough to see that changing anytime soon.
As crippling as the Garnett/Pierce trade has been for the Nets, their motivations in trading for two veteran Hall of Famers in an effort to compete in the short term were at least understandable. The Knicks’ decision to give up multiple draft picks for Andrea Bargnani was indefensible and inexplicable the day it happened, and only looked worse as time went on.
That process, however, didn’t take as long as anyone initially expected. Anunoby participated in an intrasquad scrimmage during training camp and went on to play in Toronto’s first game of the regular season. He was then promoted to the starting lineup on Nov. 14, a position he’s held in the 47 games since.
Anunoby’s numbers don’t jump off the page in the same way Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum’s do, but he’s been one of the most impactful rookies in the league this season. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at how he’s contributed on both ends of the floor.
Blake taught me a lot. That’s why yesterday I thanked him for all the stuff he’s taught me, 27-year-old rookie guard C.J. Williams said. He’s a great guy to have in the locker room. He’s very intense, and out of your guy you want that passion and mentality. Blake was a great teacher, a great teammate. He taught me how to be a professional.
This Clippers team will take on a much different look for the rest of this season as they attempt to retool, and possibly rebuild depending on their moves in the next week. If the Clippers stand pat and decide to keep DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, they will still be competitive in the West and remain in the mix for the final playoff spot.
But without Griffin, the feeling around the Clippers is different. His years will be looked back on fondly, but there will always be the thought of what could have been.