Avery Johnson Brooklyn Nets

(AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I've approached criticism of Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson -- bountiful, if you've read this blog's comments or my Twitter mentions -- with a long-term vision approach. I'm perfectly willing to throw out the past two seasons because of the horrendous team; I don't care much if he can turn a bad team below average, moreso how he can lead a very good team into greatness. Johnson found success turning an offensive-minded Dallas team into a top-10 defense; with a similarly skilled roster, I was excited to see how he could maintain an excellent offensive presence while improving the defensive efficiency in Brooklyn.

To his credit, the defense is there. In bits and pieces, but it's there. Opponents aren't getting in the lane as much this year, the Nets are defending the three-point shot more effectively, and once-sieve Brook Lopez has begun to look like a capable (if not dominating) defensive threat. The offense is still more effective than the defense, but the Nets have made defensive, systemic strides this season. Johnson won Coach of the Month in November after leading the Nets to their best start in franchise history, and I agree with the decision.

But lately, it's not the defense that's worried me... MORE →