As a Nets fan, I’ve been through some incredible suffering over the past three seasons. First, there was 12-70, in which we were subjected to one of the worst teams in all of sports history. Next came the Melodrama which involved the Nets trading their entire team (except Brook Lopez of all people!) for Carmelo Anthony in a possible suicidal move, until the Knicks saved us from certain destruction. Despite the joyful event of acquiring Deron Williams at the 2011 trade deadline, we were sucked into the Dwightmare this season in which the tantalizing prospect of replacing Lopez with Howard stared Nets fans in the face until Howard waffled his way back to Orlando in a very frustrating and aggravating sequence. Still, all of this uncertainty over the last two seasons has always been followed by a constant; poor coaching by our favorite accented general, Avery Johnson, as well as poor results on the court.
As we’ve mentioned on this site, coaches usually don’t affect the outcome of NBA games as much as we like to think. The only real job and effect a coach has is to play the right players and to play the productive players. Unfortunately, Avery doesn’t do this. Nets fans are subjected to seeing the likes of Johan Petro and DeShawn Stevenson take valuable playing time away from players that actually have a clue of how to play basketball.
For example, second round draft pick Jordan Williams has a WP48 of .148 in 258 minutes accumulated over 25 games. He was drafted as a premier rebounder from college and has shown flashes of becoming another Kris Humphries-like player. Meanwhile, Petro actually costs the team wins with an abysmal -.40 WP48, yet has played 677 minutes as well as in 17 more games than Williams. This alone has cost the Nets a win in the standings. Even by conventional standards, it is ridiculous that a 15-33 team gives Petro more minutes than a promising young player. Throughout his career, Avery has been known to be rough on young players (see Devin Harris in Dallas, as well as MarShon Brooks now) and Jordan Williams seems to be another in this progression.
Even more egregious is the play of everyone’s favorite LeBron stopper, DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson is a player who’s reputation precedes him; he’s known as someone with some rare defensive ability that can shut down anybody. Unfortunately, all Stevenson has been this season is talk. His WP48 of -.22 ranks among the worst in his position and this is a guy who has started 25 games this season. MarShon Brooks and Anthony Morrow have been far from spectacular, but I’d rather see either of them play 48 minutes instead of watching Stevenson in all of his supposed defensive glory.
To top it off, players that were once great are starting to regress. Deron Williams, widely regarded as the future of our franchise if he stays, has a WP48 of .063 this season, almost half of what it was last season. Only Gerald Wallace represents some kind of efficiency on this team, and he can’t be expected to guard all 5 opposing players. It almost seems like the players, especially Williams, have just given up on the “Little General”.
The signing of Avery Johnson was once again an example of a coach who’s reputation preceded him. Avery had incredible success with Dallas in 05-06 and 06-07. However, this was more of a product of the players than it was him. Avery couldn’t play any bad or below average players on those squads; simply because there weren’t any. Most rotational players on those two teams had a WP48 over .100, so in essence, it would’ve been hard for anyone to mess those teams up. Meanwhile, Avery has come to the Nets, a team full off nonproductive and bad players, including one of our poster children, Brook Lopez. This has given him the optimal chance to hurt a team’s performance.
Little rant about Brook Lopez: As much as I hoped that he would be an All-Star caliber center in this league, Lopez has been a complete failure these past two seasons. Yet still, Nets fans hold hope that he has potential to be an impact player or change the losing culture of this franchise. Forget that Lopez has produced negative wins for his team over the past two seasons (WP48 of -.002 in 10-11). Even looking at his game from a fundamental aspect shows that he is not very good; for the 20 points he scores a game, the guy can’t rebound, defend anybody, or pass out of a double team. 20 points per game is great advertising, but Lopez is one of the most incompetent centers in the league and manages to only be bested by Andrea Bargnani in inefficiency statistics. Rather than tout him as a top 5 center, the Nets should instead let him walk this offseason and then blow the bank for Roy Hibbert or take a couple of productive seasons from Marcus Camby.
The future looks very bleak for us, Nets fans. This team is in dire straits and the first move has to be to fire Avery. His plays, if you can call them plays, diminish the ability of his best players, like Williams, and instead offer up isolations to the likes of Anthony Morrow. His team appears to have given up on him. And he plays Johan Petro.
After firing Avery, the Nets still need a new coach, a new center, and likely a new point guard, and probably won’t have a lottery pick this season. In other words, this could get very ugly.
Turning Knicks fans into Nets fans? Very poor choice of words, Mr. Prokhorov.