When the Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned general manager Billy King in January 2016, with the team en route to a 21-61 finish, I wrote that the Nets' failed win-now strategy could turn the organization into "an albatross for years to come."
It was easy to see why I was so pessimistic. Because of a 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn was poised to send multiple lottery picks to Boston without reaping any of the rewards for all the losing the Nets were about to do. That's exactly what happened. Brooklyn's pick came up No. 3 in 2016, No. 1 overall in 2017 and No. 8 in 2018. All the Nets had to show for it was the 27th pick in 2017, swapped from the Celtics.
Yet three-plus years later, Brooklyn isn't the hopeless franchise I envisioned back then. Remarkably, the Nets have made it back to the postseason. And while that playoff run might come to a relatively quick end Tuesday if Brooklyn loses Game 5 of its first-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets are poised to continue improving with one of the league's youngest rotations. They also could create max salary-cap space this summer to add a veteran star to the mix.
Suddenly, Brooklyn's future appears bright rather than bleak. Should accomplishing that turnaround without the benefit of the lottery make us rethink the need to automatically give the best draft picks to the worst teams?