The Minor Characters: Winning

New York Knicks' Shawne Willams pulls down a rebound away from New Jersey Nets' Dan Gadzuric, top, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game
AP Photo/Bill Koustron


In every movie, you have the Brad Pitt or the Nicholas Cage who is in all the fighting scenes, gets the attractive female, and saves the day. You also have the stage crew, the extras, and the minor characters that are kind of just “there.”

In a 24-win season, multiple players stand out as terrible and few stand out as exceptional. However, there are always those who don’t stand out at all. Last season, the whole team was either terrible or nondescript, save for Brook Lopez. This season was primed to have tons of nondescript contract year guys. Outside of Lopez & Travis Outlaw, every player was injured at some point, causing the Nets to suit up an NBA season-high 22 players. While tons of Nets were bad (Outlaw, Johan Petro, Stephen Graham), four stood out (or I guess didn’t stand out) as the background characters.

Mario West

Final Stats: 6 GP, 3 GS, 19.3 MPG, 3.7 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 42.9 FG%, 9.10 PER (yes, higher than Outlaw)

West was brought in mainly because Quinton Ross was injured. That should tell you enough. The guy was brought in on a 10-day contract just like Sundiata Gaines and made the most of it. The Nets got some tenacious defense, most notably against LeBron and his Heatles, and got a guy who never stopped trying. While West isn’t the most talented of players, he has heart and sometimes that’s enough for a player to get somewhere in the NBA. He demonstrated that he can be a decent “Trenton Hassell” off of the bench by playing 19.3 minutes per game this season before injuring his shoulder.

Dan Gadzuric

Final Stats: GP 14, GS 5 (WHAT!), 11.8 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 0.2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 41.5 FG%, 9.2 PER (once again, higher than Outlaw)

Gadzuric was brought in from Golden State with Brandan Wright in exchange for Troy Murphy. He was, in a word, bad. There was absolutely no reason why Gadzuric should have started 5 games over Wright or even Petro. However, he was an Avery Johnson type of player (some faulty reputation as a good defender, and you can start!). From a front office standpoint, Gadzuric was a pretty large expiring contract at 7.2 million for this season. On the court, Gadzuric didn’t really bring anything to the table. Despite the occasional dunk, he couldn’t really do much on offense. Despite the occasional hustle play, he was useless on defense. It is unlikely that he ever finds a job in the NBA ever again. Yet, he was starting on this team for a couple of weeks. Remind me why I still watched these games after Deron Williams and Hump went down?

Quinton Ross

Final Stats: GP 36, GS 4, 9.8 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 0.3 APG, 0.8 RPG, 0.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 44.1 FG %, 3.71 PER (I guess Outlaw had to beat someone)

The Nets should have just signed Trenton Hassell at this point. Ross is infamously known as one of the least efficient players in the league. Why is this? Because when he goes on the court, well, he doesn’t really do anything. His PER of 3.71 only slightly beats last year (3.04, league low). While he was a good defender, he would have to play at an All-Defense team level in order to justify scoring 7 points per 40 minutes. Ross had an unfortunate shoulder injury late in the season and that probably will doom his chances of making an NBA roster next season.

Brandan Wright

Final Stats: GP 16, GS 1, 11.5 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 0.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 40.7 FG%, 15.5 PER

Ah, and we reach Brandan Wright. Wright is definitely the most interesting character on this list. He’s like a poor man’s Anthony Randolph, a rail-thin, abused Don Nelson victim who has finishing skills, can run the floor, and has all the talent in the world. For this reason (and the fact that he was once a lottery pick), Wright became as close to a fan favorite as he could have. However, I don’t think that this was justified. While Avery probably shouldn’t have started Gadzuric this season, Wright was basically a rookie. He’s played in 114 games over 3 seasons. He looks completely lost at times on both ends of the floor. Despite being athletic, he can’t create for himself at all. He’s practically the same player he was on the fateful day in which Jason Richardson was traded for him. At this point, I don’t think Wright can amount to much due to the fact that he’s too raw for his age. Coaches have short leashes for 23 year olds that still can’t rotate (the one game he started, he played 3 minutes after letting Erick Dampier go ballistic inside). Still, Wright is athletic and has some promise. He’ll probably find his way onto another team next season.