After struggling with a 12 win season last year, Nets fans are feeling good about their current situation. A much improved roster, a successful coach, and an owner willing to spend has fans thinking about the playoffs. We here think that the playoffs are a possibility but not a guarantee. Over the next two weeks, we are going to look at four things that need to happen for the Nets to make the playoffs. This is part II.
The Nets Will Make The Playoffs If…TWill Develops Into the Player We Saw at the End of Last Season
Why Is It Important?
After a complete roster makeover this summer, Terrence Williams is one of four remaining Nets from last year’s roster. While some believe the trade of Courtney Lee opens the starting SG spot for sharpshooter Anthony Morrow, I personally believe with TWill’s diverse skillset, a permanent spot in the starting lineup is his for the taking. No player on the roster may be more linked to the Nets respectable finish to last season than Williams. After floundering for most of the season on the bench, even receiving a threat from the front office that he would be demoted to the D-League if he didn’t get his act together, TWill became a fixture in the Nets rotation for the season’s final six weeks. And TWill rewarded the team for its faith, averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists in March and 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists in April. Without this boost in production from TWill, the Nets possibly end up with the worst record in NBA history. Instead, they won 4 of their last 11 games.
TWill’s playmaking ability and tenacious rebounding compliment the Nets starting five. While he’s not an effective scorer from the perimeter, he has an explosive first step and is a strong finisher at the basket. With Brook Lopez working the post, Travis Outlaw and Troy Murphy working the perimeter and Devin Harris being another threat to slash and score, TWill will likely be matched with defenders who will not be able to handle his combination of speed and strength.
Can It Happen?
Yes. TWill’s Summer League performance seems to be a mixed bag as some criticized him for not getting the ball to rookie Derrick Favors enough (Favors’ one good game came without TWill who was sitting with an injury). But Williams was also clearly the star of the Orlando Summer League, averaging 18.8 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Yes, it’s only Summer League, against other first and second year players, but TWill looked poised and confident, and most importantly demonstrated that his ability to fill a stat sheet last March and April were no fluke. His game still has significant flaws: his outside shooting beyond the corner three is putrid and his turns the ball over too much for a playmaker – often trying to make the spectacular play instead of the smart one. But TWill potentially brings so much to the Nets when he’s focused and playing smart, that his evolution is essential to the Nets Playoff chances.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves with comparisons, but just for fun, in Scottie Pippen’s sophomore season (age 23, like Williams) he put up 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. We all know how his career worked out.