The recent success of the Nets puts them back among the best in the NBA

December 12, 2022;  Washington, District of Columbia, USA;  Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) celebrates with Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena.

December 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) celebrates with Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons returned from a leg injury two weeks ago. The Nets were playing Atlanta at home, looking to wrap up a successful family.

They won that night to finish 6-1 in a crucial seven-game stretch at the Barclays Center.

They were in a good position, but Simmons didn’t want to take too much advantage of the team’s strong play over the previous two weeks.

“It is still early. We know we still have a long way to go,” she said that evening. “A lot of guys on and off, rotations change a lot. But it’s the same goal, to build day after day.

The day-to-day approach has worked well since that night. If the Nets had built a foundation in that house, they’ve since added a large ground floor.

I’m 5-0 since that Atlanta game. They will carry a seven-game hitting streak into Friday’s game against Milwaukee.

Overall, they have won 11 of their last 12.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Nets are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA right now.

There are many factors behind Brooklyn’s success. Three of them? Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Jacques Vaughn.

The team is 18-7 since Vaughn took over Steve Nash.

December 9, 2022;  Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn practices against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at the Barclays Center.

December 9, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn practices against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at the Barclays Center. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

They are fourth in the standings below Vaughn. The Nets are also sixth in offensive rating and ninth in defensive rating since Vaughn took over.

Irving is averaging 24 points, four rebounds and four assists under Vaughn while shooting 50% from the floor.

Durant is playing some of the best basketball of his career right now. He is averaging 30 points per game on an incredible 56% shooting. He’s hitting 63 percent of his two-point shots, including 56 percent of his attempts between 5 and 19 feet.

With Durant and Irving leading the way, the club established itself as a selfless bunch.

The Nets are top six in assist percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio under Vaughn.

“We’re an efficient team,” Durant said earlier this month. “Mid 20, 30 in assists, that’s just our game now, so I expect us to do that. So let’s keep moving the ball, we’ll find good shots and I think we’re always looking for a better shot… We have to keep doing that.”

The Nets have been doing a lot of this lately. And it changed the outlook on their season.

GOOD TIMES FOR KD SHOE

Timothy Goodmann it doesn’t work in basketball. But if you’re a fan of basketball in New York, you’ve probably seen his work.

Goodman is a New York-based artist; he is highly regarded in he field of him. (The NBA equivalent of an award-winning All-Star, in my opinion).

Goodman’s work has spanned buildings, clothing, books, magazine covers and galleries in New York City and around the world. He has worked with The New York Times, MoMA, McDonald’s, West Elm, The New Yorker and dozens of other brands with a large local presence.

If you don’t know Goodman by name, you’ll likely recognize one of his newest New York-based projects. Goodman drew the art featured on Kevin Durant’s newest shoe, the KD15.

December 18, 2022;  Detroit, Michigan, USA;  A detailed view of the boots worn by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first half against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.

December 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; A detailed view of the boots worn by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first half against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The design is based on the pitch Goodman created with the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation. The courthouse – PS 152/315 in Canarsie – features terms/phrases like “determination”, “effort” and “it’s good to take care” on the asphalt.

“The connection to that project was important,” Goodman says.

The words on the pitch weren’t just Goodman’s. Goodman’s students and PS 152/315 worked together on sentences and drawings for the courthouse before Goodman started painting the asphalt.

Some of the same designs and phrases can be seen on the KD15s.

Goodman and the team at Nike wanted to give the shoe a distinctly New York feel and they succeeded by incorporating PS 152/315 asphalt.

This was the first basketball shoe for Goodman, who has a graphic novel out next month. Durant’s team asked him to work on their court after seeing his work with the Bleacher Report (a 40-foot mural depicting the best teams in the NBA). This led to the opportunity to design Durant’s latest shoe.

Goodman credits everyone involved in creating the shoe with giving him the ability to create without restriction. He hopes this will spur other brands to allow independent artists to create their own work for the company rather than having their ideas co-opted by a company’s in-house designers.

“This has been important to me and I really appreciate the opportunity to work like this,” he said. “I hope we can go that route (more often).”

Goodman also hopes his work can help bring to life the sense of kindness, community and love that got somewhat lost while we were all locked inside during the pandemic.

Goodman grew up in Cleveland but has lived in New York for nearly twenty years. He quickly adopted the Knicks—and, later, the Nets—as the teams he roots for. Now, the biggest star on the Nets, and arguably the NBA, is wearing a shoe of his own design. It’s a turn of events that is still hard for Goodman to fathom.

“Just surreal,” she said.

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