Last night, the season came to a close in a literary fashion. A team with no incentive to win, other than pride, was carried to victory by its bench and its fans, riding the wave of narrative (and Rasual Butler) to its 62nd win. I’m talking about the Bulls, of course. On the other side, The Nets were a beaten-up, broken-down team that just couldn’t compete. That was their identity for the last quarter of the season; after the wild ending that resulted in a victory over Boston, a five-game winning streak, and the pinkest, shirtiest, jubilationiest fan ever, the Nets won merely two of their final seventeen games.
It wasn’t surprising. Deron Williams was injured, about 5,000 other guys followed. The Nets finished with only two guys playing the full 82: Brook Lopez & Travis Outlaw. They trotted out 22 guys in total on their roster this season, and only two – Williams & Lopez – are guaranteed to be back next season. Everyone else is either on the block or out the door.
Still, this season, despite the poor record, has been one of the most wild for New Jersey in recent memory. Let’s take a quick look at how last year’s team and this year’s stack up:
|5th||Place in Division||4th|
|100.6 (30th)||Offensive Rating (Points/100 possessions)||103.1 (27th)|
|110.5 (25th)||Defensive Rating (Points allowed/100 possessions)||109.9 (21st)|
|91.4 (24th)||Pace (Possessions per game)||89.9 (24th)|
|.458 (30th)||Team eFG%||.474 (27th)|
|.517 (23rd)||Opponent eFG%||.503 (19th)|
|74.8% (25th)||Free Throw Percentage||75.1% (25th)|
|13.7% (21st)||Team Turnover %||13.4% (15th)|
|13.3% (14th)||Opponent Turnover %||11.8% (30th)|
|25.1% (21st)||Offensive Rebound %||26.1% (16th)|
|71.8% (28th)||Defensive Rebound %||74.2% (14th)|
|Bruce Ratner||Owner||Mikhail Prokhorov|
|Rod Thorn||General Manager||Billy King|
|Lawrence Frank/Tom Barrise/Kiki Vandeweghe||Coach||Avery Johnson|
|Izod Center||Arena||Prudential Center|
|537,230 (30th)||Annual Attendance||581,378 (28th)|
|Bobby Simmons ($10.6 million)||Highest-Paid Player||Deron Williams ($14.9 million)|
|Brook Lopez, 18.8 PPG||Top Scorer||Brook Lopez, 20.4 PPG|
|Brook Lopez, 8.6 RPG||Top Rebounder||Kris Humphries, 10.4 RPG|
|Devin Harris, 6.6 APG||Top Assist Man||Deron Williams, 12.8 APG|
|2 (once)||Longest Winning Streak||5 (once)|
|ERROR||Win #13||January 24th, 2011 vs. Cleveland|
|4||Total Overtimes Played||13|
|Harris, Lee, Douglas-Roberts, Yi, Lopez||Opening Night Starting 5||Harris, Morrow, Outlaw, Smith, Lopez|
|0||In-Season Acquisition of Superstar Count||1|
|1 (Trenton Hassell)||Amount of Trenton Hassell’s||2 (Stephen Graham, Quinton Ross)|
I’d say for the most part, things are looking up. One big change for the worse has been opponent turnover rate, consistently the Nets haven’t forced turnovers out of their opposition, particularly up top. That’s because Courtney Lee was much better at forcing opposing guards into bad decisions than Anthony Morrow is. Other than that, this was what I’d call a “baby steps” season – getting slightly better across the board, gearing up to make a splash in two years in Brooklyn.
Depending on who the Nets retain or sign, next year will again look completely different. Hopefully, with D-Will around, it’ll be for the better.