One of the big questions facing the Nets this season was how coach Kenny Atkinson would deal with coaching superstars such as high-end free-agent additions Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. But since Durant is recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and Irving missed his 13th straight game against the Hornets Wednesday night at Barclays Center, those relationships are on hold.
Instead, Atkinson has leaned on his four-season relationship with backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who has the Nets at 9-3 as a starter before facing the Hornets. The coach compared Dinwiddie to “one of your first kids” because of how he has developed since being signed out of the G League.
“We’ve had four years together, and it’s amazing how you end up saying less because you kind of know what each other is thinking,” Atkinson said. “We have, sometimes, a humorous relationship. We get each other. I will say he’s more confident and more vocal. When we’re doing something he doesn’t agree with, he’ll tell me. Which is a really good thing that he’s progressed to that level.
“He’ll make suggestions during the game. That’s real growth in the relationship. We’ve been through a lot, a lot of losing, quite honestly. So, I’m really proud of where that relationship has gone in the four years we’ve been together.”
Writers honor Dinwiddie
The Nets’ chapter of the Professional Basketball Writers Association presented Dinwiddie with the Darryl Dawkins award honoring him for his cooperation and professionalism toward beat writers covering the team. The award recognized his role for the past two seasons, when injuries forced him into a significant leadership role.
Irving, LeVert updates
Irving (shoulder) still has not been cleared for contact, but Atkinson said, “His on-court work has ramped up.” . . . As for Caris LeVert, who underwent right thumb surgery four weeks ago and is projected to be out up to six weeks, Atkinson said, “He’s been on the court shooting and working. I tend to stick with that timeline.”