D'Angelo Russell (275803)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

Fans of New York basketball seem obsessed with making their Knicks great again. There were dreams of LeBron once coming here, now KD and Kyrie. Anthony Davis may have added them to his short list of teams that he’ll OK a trade to, but it won’t be any time soon, lengthening the speculation and the discussion.

Common sense tells us that if KD (Kevin Durant) wanted to make a team great again, it would be the Washington Wizards, his hometown team. But if a star free agent player is shopping for a team with some upside during the offseason, why not the Brooklyn Nets?

With patience, scouting and smart, practical basketball decisions, the Nets are turning their woes into wins.

Brooklyn has advanced from a 12th place team last season to a 6-seed in the NBA’s current Eastern Conference standings, already surpassing their 28 total wins of last season by 70 days. They’ve moved on from 54 losses last year, and 61 and last place the year before that.

Sunday’s NBA All-Star game is indicative of how the Nets are thriving now. Joe Harris, the Nets’ 6-foot-6 small forward/shooting guard since signing here in 2016, wins the 3-point competition, forcing MVP Stephen Curry to need almost every shot in the final round to defeat him. With some luck on Harris’ side, Curry missed one of the corner shots to secure Harris’ victory.

“Obviously, it’s incredible. Steph is the greatest shooter of all time,” said Harris humbly, noting that shooting off the rack of balls for a minute in an All-Star weekend contest is not indicative of being a better shooter than Curry. “I don’t want anybody to get it twisted at all,” Harris emphasized. “For me to come in my first time, and to win, it’s a surreal experience.”

Also joining Harris this weekend in Charlotte, N.C. were team mates D’Angelo Russell participating in Sunday’s All-Star game, second year center Jarrett Allen and rookie forward Rodian Kurocs, both participating in the Rising Stars Challenge, the all-star scrimmage for the NBA’s talented rookies and sophomores.

“We would have had five players here if Spencer [Dinwiddie] would have been healthy,” Harris also noted. “He would have been able to defend his Skills Challenge championship.”

Dinwiddie won last year’s challenge, but was unable to compete this season due to a severe injury to his hand which now has him sidelined for several more weeks. He was able to rep Brooklyn by adding his voice to the team of announcers broadcasting the competition.

Brooklyn and their all-star players return from their All-Star break with 4-of-5 games at home. The Portland Trail Blazers here in Brooklyn tonight, Feb. 21, then the whole team goes to Charlotte to play the Hornets, then home for the San Antonio Spurs Feb. 25, the Washington Wizards Feb. 27, the Hornets again next March 1.