After the debacle that was 2009-2010 Nets season, Avery Johnson was the coach hired to pick up the pieces and rebuild this franchise from the ground up. In what certainly can be called a process, you can definitely make the case that with Avery leading the charge, the Nets took positive steps forward this season.
Personnel moves aside, the Nets overall wins doubled, going from 12 in 09-10 to 24 this season. Some of their simple numbers like point differential, offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency all improved and while some of that goes to an improved roster, a lot of that improvement has to get credited to Avery. On a night in and night out basis, Johnson had the Nets playing much harder and with a young and changing roster, that was a good accomplishment.
The Pink Shirt: Avery Johnson gave us a lot by way of X’s and O’s. While no one would put AJ on the par of wizards like Gregg Popovich or Doc Rivers (yet), Avery certainly held his own. Nets Are Scorching looked at this play back in January, in which the Nets drew up some creativity to secure a win over the Chicago Bulls.
The Paper Bag: With another chance to knock off a playoff team, the Nets held a three point advantage over the Oklahoma City Thunder late in double-overtime. Coming out of a time-out, Avery Johnson and the staff elected to foul immediately, instead of just playing straight defense, and it led to Jeff Green getting fouled in the act of a shooting a three-pointer. The foul was committed by Stephen Graham, who also earned a paper bag for this play. Green hit all three foul shots to tie the game in which the Nets eventually went on to lose.
Final Thoughts: Avery brought respectability and stability back to a franchise that, at the time, desperately needed it. Towards the second half of the season, Brook Lopez seemed to be back on the path towards the all-star caliber center we all hope he can be and Kris Humphries played the best basketball of his career. Avery Johnson has to get credit for some of those career developments. Deron Williams had great things to say about Coach Johnson in his post-season comments, but now the question will be can Avery get the Nets to the next level and begin contending for playoffs again.