When I broke down the schedule when it came out, I had this year’s version of the New Jersey Nets winning 30 games. Many people believed that was too low, but as it turns out it was too high. Way too high. The Nets enter their final game of the year with a chance to win their 13th game, but since they play the Heat (a team that is currently rolling right now), they will probably end with a record of 12-70. 70 losses. That is incredible. I wanted to take a look back at this season, and just give my opinion on some of the things that happened (this is just some quick thoughts – Mark and I are going to go pretty in-depth once the offseason starts).
The Losing Streak
The Nets opened the season 0-18, and instantly became the laughing stock of the entire NBA (something that would stick for the rest of the year). The worst part about it was that it could have been avoided. The Nets lost at the buzzer to the Minnesota Timberwolves, on opening night. In fact, the Nets had a number of close calls during this record breaking losing streak. In addition to the Timberwolves game, they lost to the Sixers by 3 twice, and they lost to the Heat by 1 (on a Dwyane Wade buzzer beater).
Lawrence Frank Fired, Kiki Hired
During the record breaking losing streak, Lawrence Frank was eventually let go, and while I have been calling for his head for quite sometime, it is safe to say that Frank handled the firing very professionally. The problem with firing a coach in the middle of the season is that you don’t hire a new coach who is actually prepared for the situation. No, you end up with an interm head coach, and that is what happened to the Nets as Kiki Vandeweghe as their headcoach. Kiki was never a coach at any level, but Rod Thorn put him in that position as if to say “you wanted Frank gone, you take over.”
A lot of fans here and everywhere else have compared Lawrence Frank and Kiki as coaches, and I don’t think that is fair at all. Kiki has never been a coach, but after a rough learning process (that may have cost the Nets some games), Kiki seems to have gotten the hang of it.
CDR and Terrence Williams
When you look at CDR and Terrence Williams’ seasons, it’s funny, they kind of reversed roles as the season went on. During the first part of the season, CDR was one of the bright spots on the Nets, scoring in the 20s just about every game. Meanwhile, Terrence Williams was getting the minutes due to injuries, but he wasn’t producing. At all. He took poor shots, made poor decisions, and didn’t really play defense.
Once Kiki took over and guys became healthy, Terrence Williams was sent to the bench, and he stayed there. He wasn’t too pleased about, and took to Twitter. He was also snapping at reporters, and many people were asking if T-Will should get sent down to the D-League. Meanwhile, CDR was still getting his minutes but his production was down. He blamed it on the offense (we blamed it on the lack of aggression).
CDR then started seeing his minutes decline, right around the same time T-Will started to get more minutes. CDR was the one taking to Twitter, not really complaining (though it could be taken that way), while T-Will was producing (including becoming the 4th rookie this year to put up a triple double). These two players career paths have done a 180, and now CDR’s future with the Nets is up in the air, as Terrence Williams seems to be a lock for the Nets future.
Brook Lopez was the lone bright spot throughout the season. When he suits up tonight, he will be the only Net to play in every game this year. However, that doesn’t mean it has been all smiles for Brook. While he didn’t have any off the court situations (left reporters hanging once – but joked about it afterwords) and he played hard all season, Brook’s on the court body language was poor at best some nights. While you can’t really blame him for feeling that way, it was hard to watch at times. Also, as someone who really struggled with foul trouble, his reactions probably drew himself more negative attention (and thus, more calls).
In the end, the Nets weren’t as bad as their record showed, and this team can probably rebound very quickly if things go right. They have the best chance at the #1 pick (and are guaranteed at least the 4th) and they have the Mavs first rounder as well. They have tons of money for Free Agents, an exciting new owner (who is making news before even “officially” becoming the owner), and with the move to Brooklyn basically a lock they will probably draw some big names. Add that to Brook Lopez, Devin Harris (if he stays), Terrence Williams, and Courtney Lee and you have a good squad. In the east, a good squad can get you into the playoffs. So don’t worry Nets’ fans, all hope is not lost.