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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 14. Brooklyn Nets

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  16-15,  second place Atlantic Division



6
This Month:

14
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):

  • Points Scored: 94.2 (23rd)
  • Points Allowed: 94.4 (5th)
  • Team FG%: .437 (20th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .444 (14th)
  • Rebounds per game: 36.9 (30th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.2(22nd)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.4(9th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.7 (25th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):






Worst Player of the Month: Avery Johnson


Some may believe that it might have been  unfair that Avery Johnson got fired after the Nets'huge dive in December, but he has no one to blame but himself.  For three straight years he led an team that was low on talent and even lower on effort to remain it the bottom of the East.  This time he was blessed with one of the deepest and most talented teams in the league and still continued to under-perform.  He's lucky to just get fired instead of finding himself floating belly up in the East River or washed up on the Jersey Shore.  Johnson has proven what many had already suspected--that he was a complete fraud whose success lay with the team that he coached, not so much for his talents as a coach. 
First Player of the Month:  Andray Blatche


After being cast away by the Washington Wizards and being branded as a complete washout, Andray Blatche has reinvented himself and come back with a vengeance.  He has become a major spark for the Nets coming off the bench on the offensive averaging close to 13 points and 6 boards per games while shooting .514 from the field in December.  Blatche was espcially instrumental for the Nets when he stepped up to replace the injured Brook Lopez in the starting lineup as he posted All Star like numbers averaging 18.2 points and 8.8 boards in the six games he started.  It only proved what many believed all along that Andray Blatche's poor play and attitude in Washington had to do with the environment and not so much his character.  Wizards owner Ted Leonsis much be seething right now in anger because he not only has to witness Blatche playing better than he ever had in Washington on another team, but at the same time he still has to pay him while he does it.


Analysis:

The response was swift and harsh--there was no fooling around.  After chronically underachieving and poor play that resulting in them dropping from first place in the Atlantic Division to scraping near the bottom, the Brooklyn Nets acted swiftly to stem the tide by firing head coach Avery Johnson.  There was no "let's wait and see" approach where the front office would offer Johnson as a courtesy, to see if he can right the ship.  As soon as the Nets started struggling, Johnson was sent packing and everyone from the players to the coaching staff and front office were put on notice--that there will be no acceptance of anything short of excellence.  And considering the amount of money invested by Russian billionaire team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, there should be no longer any more excuses for this Nets team that spent the last few years languishing at the bottom to perform as poorly as they had in December by any means.

For a team that boasted not just one, or two, but three All Star talents along with the size, athleticism, talent, and depth as the Nets possessed, they should be among the top five teams in every statistical category.  Instead, they have been quite the letdown ranking near the bottom in the league in scoring and rebounding while allowing teams to outscore and out shoot them.  It is no wonder that the Nets went from finishing November with a 11-4 record to completely crash and burn in December dropping ten of fifteen games.  Even at the start of the season, their output on both the offensive and defensive ends certainly did not reflect the depth and talent roster would suggest nor the near 100$ million dollars it took to assemble that team.  Once December arrived , their rather lackadaisical and underwhelming play finally caught up with them resulting in the team's dramatic downfall.

The Nets started December losing five in a row against teams that they could have and should have beaten; instead, they simply embarrassed themselves by losing every game, four of which were played on their own home court.  Not to say the quality of the teams they lost to were not up to par with them--the Nets took on rather stiff competition in the forms of the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (12/1/2012), last season's NBA finalist Oklahoma City Thunder (12/4/2012), an surprising upstart Golden State Warriors squad (12/7/2012) and their equally deep and talented rival New York Knicks (12/11/2012).  At the same, considering the amount of talent, size, and depth of their roster, the Nets should have at least won one of those games and certainly should not allow a second rate, mediocre in the Milwaukee Bucks to manhandle them on their own home floor (12/9/2012).  Sure Brooklyn managed to bounce back winning their next two games, but they barely scraped past them and these two teams were not major contenders in the least.  They nearly allowed a depleted undermanned Toronto Raptors team that they should have blown out to come within six points from beating them (12/12/2012) and barely scraped by an even worse Detroit Pistons team by just one basket in overtime (12/14/2012).

Then came the straw that broke the camel's back when the Nets lost five of their next six games rather embarrassingly being outscored 95.2 to 87.0 and allowed their opponents to torch them on the court as they shot close to .460 from the field.  Brooklyn allowed a far inferior team in the  Utah Jazz to come back from a commanding 13 point half time lead and beat them by two (12/18/2012) and not only got humiliated again by the Knicks (12/19/2012), but also allowed themselves to be steamrolled over by an aging and over the hill Boston Celtics team (12/25/2012) and an even more inferior team in Milwaukee Bucks (12/26/2012) losing by an average margin of 16 points.  Heads certainly had to roll and  by that time the sharks were already circling and there was blood in the water, so Nets general manager Billy King had to save his own neck by following the time honored tradition  of placing all the blame on the team's head coach, Avery Johnson, which led to his eventual dismissal.  Although the Nets finished December strong under interim coach PJ Carlesimo winning two of their last three games and finishing one game over .500, Billy King is still treading on very thin ice.  Even if the Nets manage to bounce back from December and finish with one of the best records in the East, if they are nowhere near to contending for an NBA title, King will also be as good as gone soon enough.

After the recent turn of events Mikhail Prokhorov's message has been distinctly clear--the Nets have just one one goal and that is win a championship through hell or high water--and he has put the players, coaching staff and management on notice that he will stop at nothing to assure that is goal is reached.  From the second it was announced that he would be the Nets' new owner, Prokhorov proclaimed that upon taken over the team, the Nets would be in the running for a championship in five years.  Many scoffed at his declaration; however, within three years of making such a bold prediction, the same doubters have now been silenced as everyone has seen at what length this man will go to assure that his promise to the fans will be kept by any means necessary.  At the start of the season, he essentially handed his GM Billy King a blank check to assemble a team capable of not only competing with the best, but superseding them as well and he has not only put not only King, but the players, coaches and fans on notice that he expects immediate results.  This certainly will not be the end of the shakeups as the bar has been raised higher than most Nets fans have been accustomed to as Prokhorov plans to usher in a new age in Brooklyn basketball and have mercy to those who dares to get in his way.