New Jersey Nets: 10 Bold Predictions After the All-Star Break
With the New Jersey Nets winning only 10 of their first 35 games, it would be bold to predict that they would even go .500 for the rest of the season.
I predict they will go 20-11 after the break. How's that?
From an outsider looking in or the occasional NBA fan who only looks at the Nets 10-25 record, it is easy to label this team as one of the worst in the league. But, if that same fan looked at New Jersey's injury report throughout the season, along with almost an entirely new roster, they could find some explanation behind all the losing.
The Nets have been the most injured team in the league to this point, which in turn forced Avery Johnson to play 19 different starting lineups.
The most significant injury New Jersey had to deal with was their center, Brook Lopez. Lopez, who the team's offense was built around, was lost in the preseason and has appeared in only two games up to this point.
The Nets have also lost three players for the season. Starting small forward Damion James, Keith Bogans and Shawne Williams.
Despite three players gone, New Jersey is getting healthy, at least healthier, and are finally looking to gain some consistency as they settle on a starting lineup of Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, DeShawn Stevenson, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez.
Here are 10 more bold predictions for the New Jersey Nets.
Deron Williams Will Finish Leading the League in Assists
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Deron Williams has managed to average 8.2 APG without an inside presence or dependable post player.
Instead of Shelden Williams, who is averaging a meager 4.7 points per game, or Kris Humphries, who gets most of his points off rebounds, D. Williams will now have Brook Lopez to pass to.
Lopez is a proven post scorer with a variety of moves who also can shoot from mid-range. Last season, Lopez averaged 20.4 points per game.
With Lopez back and healthy, the outside shooters will also get more open as he draws the double team.
The Williams/Lopez pick-and-roll alone could add two assists to Deron's per game average.
Steve Nash is currently the assists leader, averaging 10.9 per game.
Brook Lopez Will Get Back to Scoring 20 Points Per Game Quickly
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
After being held out with a broken foot for a little more than eight weeks, Brook Lopez returned to score nine points in his first game back. In that game, he missed six free throws, which was surprising since he is very close to being an 80 percent career free-throw shooter.
In his second game, against the Orlando Magic, Lopez scored 15 points in 28 minutes.
After the All-Star break, the New Jersey Nets face the Dallas Mavericks. With an increase in minutes, expect Lopez to score 20 or more.
The Dallas game will be the start of a 20-point per game streak for Lopez.
Even with Lopez Back, MarShon Brooks' Scoring Will Rise
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
MarShon Brooks is currently scoring 14.6 points per game, which ranks him second among rookies, behind only No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving.
In the last five games before the break, Brooks averaged 17.4 points per game. In his last two, he had 24 against the Orlando Magic and 18 against the New York Knicks.
He did this all with a 41 percent field goal percentage.
Without Brook Lopez, Brooks had to deal with teams doubling him. With Lopez back, he will get more man-on-man defense. This is where Brooks excels as he has more of a one-on-one game.
By the end of the season, his scoring average will be closer to 20 points per game rather than 15.
Gerald Green Will Prove He Is a Capable NBA Starter
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The New Jersey Nets are set to sign former NBA player Gerald Green to a 10-day contract.
Green cannot come soon enough. The Nets are desperate for help at the small forward position.
Green is coming off a stint in the D-league where he was averaging 19.1 points per game, shooting 48 percent overall and 46.1 from three.
If he only averages 10 points per game, it would be a much-needed upgrade over DeShawn Stevenson's three, that's right, three points per game.
All Green has to do is run and be on the other end of an alley-oop. He must get out on the break and Deron Williams will find him. If he does, he should secure a starting spot.
There Will Not Be a Dwight Howard Trade
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
If DeVos realizes at the trade deadline that Howard is a goner in the offseason and decides to look for a deal, Nets general manager Billy King will not give up a package of Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and picks.
Insread of giving up the farm, King will take his chances to sign Howard in free agency.
Anthony Morrow for Sixth Man of the Year
Fresh off a horrible performance in the three-point shootout at All-Star weekend, Anthony Morrow will come back angry and will go off on a tear, shooting threes as if they were free throws.
Currently, Morrow is averaging 13 points in 28.9 minutes per game. He's doing this averaging 40 percent from deep.
Just like the rest of the roster, with Brook Lopez back, Morrow will get more open shots, which will increase his scoring and scoring percentage.
If the New Jersey Nets go more than .500 the rest of the way, Morrow will be in the discussion for Sixth Man of the Year.
Kris Humphries Will Be Best Big Man Free Agent Signing
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Nene Hilario and Tyson Chandler were the big-name, big-money, big men available in the offseason. Kris Humphries was left out of the discussion as a prized free agent even after averaging a double-double last season.
The New Jersey Nets were right not to throw a ton of money at Nene or Chandler. With "settling" on Humpries for just a one-year contract, all Hump has done is play as good or better than the other signings.
Humphries is having another career season after last season's career season.
Humphries is currently averaging 13.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, all career highs. The others?
Gasol is averaging 15 ppg., 10.1 rpg., 2.2 bpg.
Jordan is averaging 8 ppg., 9 rpg., 2.6 bpg.
Nene is averaging 13.4 ppg., 7.8 rpg., .8 bpg.
Chandler is averaging 11.7 ppg., 9.5 rpg., 1.3 bpg.
By season's end Humphries will have a better statistical season than all of them.
Deron Williams Will Shut Up Dallas Mavericks Reporters
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
With reports of Deron Williams wanting to sign with the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, Williams will be bombarded by reporters after the New Jersey Nets play the Mavs in Dallas in the first game after the break.
After giving a few one word answers to the questions about signing with Dallas, Williams will get annoyed and tell them to shut up.
He will then proclaim right then, in Dallas, that he will 100 percent sign long-term with the Brooklyn Nets.
Mikhail Prokhorov Will Come to New Jersey to Watch His Nets Play
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
After losing the Russian presidency, New Jersey Nets billionaire owner will be back in New Jersey to personally watch his Nets.
While he is back, he will set up a press conference to reveal the team's new logo and uniforms. He will also proclaim his statement of winning a championship in five years has not changed, all while dropping hints the Dwight Howard will be part of the Nets next season.
With Prokhorov more involved, he will set up a private meeting with Howard that no one will ever find out. During this meeting he will give $1 billion to Superman. For this $1 billion, Howard must continue telling the Orlando Magic that he might stay, so that they keep him past the trade deadline.
This way, Howard will come to a team with Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Brook Lopez and a possible two first-round picks.
New Jersey Nets Will Make a Playoff Push
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
As of right now, the New Jersey Nets are six and a half games out of the eighth spot. After the break, the Nets' schedule lightens up as they have only five back-to-backs and no more back-to-back-to-backs.
The Nets are finally healthier and may actually get some production out of the small forward position with Gerald Green.
Who knows, maybe Danny Ainge breaks up Boston's Big Three at the trade deadline or an injury occurs.
It could happen.