See that chart above? That's a visualization of the career PER arc of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the former Boston Celtics that the Brooklyn Nets traded for this offseason in the hopes of erasing their spacing and defensive issues that doomed them last season. But both Garnett and Pierce have stumbled out of the gate, and even though a decline isn't unexpected (Pierce is 36 years old and Garnett 37), this type of decline is stunning and immediate.

PER is one of those all-encompassing stats that doesn't tell the full story, but it's safe to say this is an accurate representation of how badly these two new Nets have looked this year. The Nets currently sit at 4-12 and 13th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks.

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Brook LopezI’ll admit I was once a non-believer. A little less than a decade ago after reading Michael Lewis’ Moneyball and watching the 2003 Boston Red Sox –- with noted statistician Bill James as part of their front office team -– collapse in the playoffs against the New York Yankees, I questioned why there was a contingent of people who follow baseball that were so insistent on moving away from the traditional models we used to judge quality. What was wrong with home runs, RBIs and batting average as the be-all, end-all metric? Don’t even get me started on basketball. How was it possible to take a team game like basketball and develop new metrics to determine who’s better than who?

But I’ve since seen the light, and I firmly believe if others did, rather than focusing on antiquated criteria like points or rebounds per game, or silly perceived intangibles like past reputation, Brook Lopez would have been named an All-Star last night. ... MORE →