51 G, 30 GS, 18.8 MPG, 2.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG, .404 eFG%, .413 TS%, 4.3 PER, 3.3% PIE
After not being signed until the final days of training camp, Stevenson apparently showed up to Nets camp a little out of shape, so it might take a few weeks before he cracks the rotation with regularity. However, once he’s up to speed, expect to see Stevenson on the floor against the likes of LeBron and Carmelo Anthony. He’s an even better fit once/if Brook Lopez returns, since Stevenson can help space the floor offensively with his three-point shooting.
Throughout the year, DeShawn Stevenson’s been my lightning rod of hate. He shoots weirdly off-balance threes even when he’s wide open. He made eight shots inside the arc in 960 minutes all season. He’s a defensive specialist that defended half the time in half the games. Out of his 3.4 shots per game, 84% of them were threes, and he didn’t even average three points per game. He wrapped up the most poetic, awful thirteen seconds in basketball history. He became more than just a terrible basketball player, he became a symbol for everything that was wrong with the Nets: the antithesis to a versatile, three-point shooting wing.
But none of that is his fault. Stevenson didn’t do anything outside of his capabilities. On a team blindsided by injury after injury, Avery Johnson thrust him into a role he didn’t deserve, and he played exactly as you’d expect: he took his occasional open shot (which usually missed), and didn’t do much else. He was far more effective in Dallas, but Dallas surrounded him with some of the best players in the game, which allowed him to pick his spots. The Nets didn’t have that luxury. He was a shooting guard, playing small forward, unwilling to extend his usefulness because he couldn’t.
And yet, MarShon Brooks gravitated towards him. Jordan Williams gravitated towards him. Players in the locker room loved him. They stood up for him, and vice versa. He’s mentored young players and displayed an understanding of the defense (however scattered it might be around him). He’s expressed a desire to stay with this team in Brooklyn, even though he went from NBA champion to NBA doormat. The shooting guard with an Abe Lincoln tattoo on his Adam’s apple was a consummate professional from day one. When the Nets acquired Gerald Wallace and looked mildly healthy, Stevenson strung together a series of DNP-CD’s. Is it his fault that context asked him to be more than what he was?
On numerous occasions this season, watching DeShawn Stevenson play made me cringe. (One notable exception: his harrowing defense tricking Jason Kidd into a terrible airball at the end of the Nets’ victory over the Mavericks.) Compared to his level of competition, he’s not a good basketball player. But he’s a great teammate. On a 22-44 team, can you ask much more?