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By the numbers: 69 G, 68 GS, 30.1 MPG, 7.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, .7 BPG, .397 FG%, 637 FT%, .490 TS%, .448 eFG%
Advanced: 11.6 PER, 101 ORtg, 104 DRtg, 14.5 USG%, 3.9 ORB%, 14.3 DRB%, 9.1 TRB%, 13.3 AST%, 2.5 STL%, 1.7 BLK%, 3.1 estimated wins added
Do you remember the feeling you got when you played Rollercoaster Tycoon and created the most amazing, insane and physics-bending rollercoaster that seemingly cruised along with relative ease until the track suddenly ended and all the pixellated guests went up in fiery destruction?
Well, that’s how it felt to watch Gerald Wallace’s 2012-2013 season.
Gerald Wallace crashed to the floor late in Brooklyn’s home opener against Toronto trying to stop an easy layup, Nets fans everywhere held their breath. For those that were new to Brooklyn basketball this year, Wallace’s style might have been jarring, but from that very first game, it should have been evident that we were all in for a rollercoaster year.
Looking at the stat sheet doesn’t always do Crash justice. Someday, we’ll look back and recognize Gerald Wallace as the All-Time leader in most falls, dives and collisions that would have knocked any regular man unconscious. This year, Wallace added to the total, and played a huge mental role in the locker room and on the court. Often, wherever Gerald went, so did the Nets.
For most of the season, the Nets met expectations, and Wallace continued to fill up the imaginary stat sheet but nobody cared because Brooklyn was winning. The game logs for Crash show much of the same: Many subpar nights loaded with 1-5 or 2-6 shooting nights, combined with four rebounds and a couple assists. But everybody praised Wallace’s determination and drive to win even though he barely beat out Reggie Evans on any given night as the fourth option on offense.
Then March came and everything changed.
We’ve written about Gerald Wallace’s shooting woes here before, so I’ll keep it short: he was terrible. In 15 games, Wallace averaged 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists on 34.3% shooting. The shooting slump even prompted the professional to utter a phrase more fit for the Nets of New Jersey: "Make a shot. A layup, something. Any f--ing thing. F---. Throw trash in a trash can. Anything. See anything go in."
While Wallace suffered on offense, he was still lauded as an above-average man defender; whether it was a well-timed block or Wallace sacrificing himself to the floor once again, whenever the Nets needed a stop on defense, it seemed like Crash was always up to the task. Invigorating the oft-calm Nets wasn’t always an easy task, and with other soft-spoken vets like Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in the locker room, it was Wallace that turned things up another level.
Up and down and around went the Crash Coaster and we all hung on for dear life, just hoping the next game would be a little better than the last. Maybe this time he won't miss that lay-up. Even after a game in April against Charlotte in which Wallace didn’t shoot a single shot, he said: “My confidence is totally gone, I’m just at the point now ... I’m in a situation where I feel like if I miss, I’m going to get pulled out of the game.”
Watching Gerald Wallace this season has been an exercise in insanity. He never really recovered any sort of three-point stroke and sometimes stopped slashing to the hoop altogether; which makes for an offense already hindered by Reggie Evans even more of a liability. It’s impossible to give Wallace any sort of vote with complete confidence because he was literally all over the map.
Even in Brooklyn’s first playoff series, Wallace found a way to do the best possible Jekyll and Hyde impersonation that exemplified the Nets' entire season. In Game 1’s thrashing of Chicago, Gerald Wallace went 5-7 with 3-threes, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Then in Game 2 and 3, Wallace shot a combined 3-15 and uttered the words: “I couldn’t tell you my role now. I don’t have a clue what my role is on this team.”
As the Nets fought back, so did Gerald—but the Nets ultimately fell short despite their best efforts. With the Nets season ending early, there seemed to be the rumblings of the same incessant whispers that came last off-season: We traded Damian Lillard for this?
While it’s not fair to compare Wallace to Lillard, it’s a label that will follow him for the rest of his tenure with Brooklyn. However, it’s undeniable that Wallace provided the Nets with some of the best moments from this year. As a stout defender and leader, his willingness to put himself in harm’s way was a blessing in disguise; and almost a good enough distraction from his horrendous year shooting-wise. Overall, I applauded Gerald’s efforts just as much as I pulled my hair out in exasperation, but once thing is for sure -— they'd have been a lot worse off without him.
HIGH POINT: Wallace's back-to-back plays to close Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls.
LOW POINT: March. All of it. But for the sake of pain, I don’t think I breathed for the five minutes following this foul:
MY FAVORITE MOMENT:I really wanted to say Game 1 against Chicago. Everything we worried about from Crash all season looked solved for this short period of time as he hit open shots, eat Jimmy Butler and made Brooklyn a winner in their first ever playoff game.
But let’s be honest, it’s definitely this. Even considering that Nate Robinson went nova afterwards, it's definitely this.
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Deron Williams | Joe Johnson | Gerald Wallace | Reggie Evans | Brook Lopez | Andray Blatche | C.J. Watson | Keith Bogans | Kris Humphries | MarShon Brooks | Mirza Teletovic | Tyshawn Taylor | Tornike Shengelia