It’s common to see NBA rookies hit a wall at some point during their first year. The college basketball season doesn’t even equal half of an NBA schedule, so don’t be surprised to see some of the league’s first-year pros feeling the heat of playing so many games in so little time.
This season-shortened to 66 games-has especially been tough, as every team in the league has to endure a three-game in three-night stretch. The Nets experienced it last weekend and went 1-2, dropping the final game of the three-game stretch, 110-95, to Chicago on Monday night. The Nets were in Philadelphia last night (Wednesday), playing for the fourth time in five days.
Nets rookie guard MarShon Brooks talked about how draining playing so often can be. “In AAU tournaments, we played a lot of back-to-back-to-back games,” he said after scoring 20 in Sunday’s 97-87 win over Charlotte. “Other than that, we’re all new to this. One good thing is [other] teams are going through the same thing.”
Brooks succumbed to fatigue as he missed the Chicago game with a sore left Achilles, but what can a player do to stay fresh? Aside from not overexerting themselves on their down time, there isn’t much a player can do to counter such a demanding schedule, according to Brooks. “Instead of shoot around, we made sure we got a lot of rest,” said Brooks. “That’s all you can really do, is make sure you sleep in.”
Brooks took comfort in the fact that he has a coach who knows how he feels. Nets coach Avery Johnson was a member of the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA’s 50-game season in 1998-1999. “Avery Johnson’s been through a season like this, so he understands,” Brooks said. “He makes sure we get the proper amount of rest and things like that.”
Former New York City prep star and Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker talked about the grind of the NBA season, too. “It’s different. In college, the games mean a lot more sometimes,” said Walker. “You don’t really have back-to-back games like this in college. You usually have two or three days before the next game.”