For the Brooklyn Nets, 2013 has been everything that late 2012 wasn’t. And that’s exactly how they want it.
The team is hitting its stride under new coach P.J. Carelismo, going 9–1 this year. As this column previously suggested, a new coach wouldn’t make a difference for this team, which was assembled with no real direction in mind.
But as the Nets have feasted on the dregs of the NBA all season long, we welcome a healthy serving of crow.
So what has happened that has allowed the Nets to stop the season from spiraling out of control?
Brook Lopez’s overall awesomeness: The one solid constant through the entire year, Lopez has kept the Nets’ collective head above water when no one else could do anything right. He is unquestionably the MVP this season.
Andray Blatche performance, on court: He is having one of his best seasons as a pro and has proven himself to be a hard worker who cleans the offensive glass and logs valuable minutes off the bench. Off the court, his alleged involvement a sexual assault in Philadelphia puts a blight on what could be a career-changing year.
Deron Williams’ turnaround: He’s back, and it’s about time. The face of the franchise has rediscovered what has made him a perennial All-Star. His shooting percentage has improved, he seemingly can’t miss a free throw, and he puts his teammates in the best position to score. Joe Johnson and Williams have figured out how to play together and stay out of each other’s way. The pick-and-roll with Lopez is as sharp as it has been all year.
The schedule: There have been some nice wins over P.J.’s first 10 games, most notably at Oklahoma City and over the Pacers, but the majority of those wins have come against teams that will not compete for a Playoff spot.
Now that the ship has been righted, it is up to Peej to keep it that way. The upcoming schedule will provide a telling test of where this team is. Consistent wins over Playoff-caliber teams will go a long way for Williams, Lopez, Carelismo, and the rest of the new-look Nets.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.