The theme of the Saturday/Sunday Nets coverage is new head coach Avery Johnson, and what his presence has meant for an organization coming off perhaps their worst season in history. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix captures what Avery is doing the second time around:
Indeed, in his second coaching stint, Johnson has evolved. The tough love is still there and throughout camp, players received an earful of Johnson’s high-pitched Southern twang. But for a team that has known nothing but negativity, running a boot camp can have an adverse effect, a point Johnson drilled home to his staff. “We have to be positive with these guys,” Johnson told his coaches. “This team’s psyche is fragile. If they get something right, you have to let them know they got it right.”
And I can’t help but feel motivated by reading about what Avery Johnson has written on the practice facility’s walls:
“Defensive FG%=44%,” it reads above the locker room entrance, unavoidable to players going through their daily practice routines.
“Details. Discipline. Decisions. Determination,” are the words on the other side of the gym.
“Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” reads another order.
Adjacent to that, “Get Better.”
Of all the moves the Nets made this off-season, none may be more important than Avery. While I was not shocked that the Nets struggled last season, I never expected them to be a 12-win team and I believe a lot of that tied into coaching. Lawrence Frank, a good guy, had be tuned out before last season and is probably doing now what’s he’s most apt to do, which is assist on a good team rather than lead a bad one. And let’s not even get started on Kiki Vandeweghe, who had no business coaching a team and seemed more interested in getting his buddy Del Harris set up with the HC spot than doing a worthwhile job of his own. From my perspective, Avery needs at least a few years here without too much criticism as I really believe he has what it takes to build a system that will help lay the foundation for the turnaround of this organization.