BOSTON — If new Nets general manager Sean Marks has made one profound change since his February hiring, it’s the notion that the systems installed by new coach Kenny Atkinson and the culture of the organization are more important than any one player. The big question is what that means for the face of the franchise, Brook Lopez, who so far has embraced change.
Lopez lost weight to become more mobile on defense, and he is finding his way in a motion offense that requires him to develop a three-point shot. “It will be interesting to see how Brook develops into the system over time,” Marks told Newsday before the Nets’ opener against the Celtics Wednesday night at TD Garden. “We’re lucky to have a guy like Brook that you can always throw the ball to in the post. But that’s not who we’re going to hang our hat on.
“It’s never about one person. It’s never going to be about Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] has got to get this done for us or Jeremy [Lin] has to.”
Playing unselfish team basketball with ball movement on offense and great help and communication on defense takes precedence over catering to the needs of one or two players, Marks said. He acknowledged Lopez’s status as the franchise player but is most impressed by the work he’s done to make changes required by Atkinson.
“What Brook’s done is terrific, and how he’s progressed through the summer and the hours he’s put in have been great,” Marks said. “When I’ve sat and talked to him, he seems enthused by it. I think Brook will fit the system.
“He’s already shown his commitment by being in better shape than he was last year. He’s bought into the performance team; he’s bought into Kenny and his staff. We know Brook is a mobile center, and he can extend the floor. I’m excited to see where that continues to go.”
Lin was the Nets’ major free-agent signing, and it’s clear he relishes taking a leadership role. “Jeremy’s game has developed, but also his leadership has developed,” Marks said. “It’s interesting to see Jeremy take guys and put his arm around them and talk to them quietly off to the side. He hasn’t been put into a position like this before, but ‘Hey, you’re the floor general whether you like it or not. You’re the starting point guard. It comes with the territory.’ I think he’s done a tremendous job.”